Posts Tagged subsidies
In our last post, we looked at Sen. Mark Udall’s claims that Colorado’s renewables mandate had been a “great success.” This time, let’s look at his claims that “…wind, now, competes with coal and some would argue is actually cheaper than coal.”
The only way that someone could make that claim is if they ignored the subsidies that wind gets in comparison with anything we get electricity from today (that CBO report was issued just a few weeks ago at the behest of the very committee in which Udall serves and made his remarks):
The jobs that Bennet brags about include those from Vestas, which the company admits only exist because of those subsidies.
The proof, of course, is in the markets. The energy that could successfully compete with a power source that has its capital expenditures almost completely amortized – most coal plants were built decades ago – would seem to be a natural for investors. Unfortunately, well…
Proponents of wind energy will point to the various externalities associated with coal. Of course, wind has a few externalities of its own, like bird kills, higher local temperatures, and downwind crop & building damage.
Sorry, Mr. Udall. Wind isn’t competitive with coal, and although the Obama administration seems hell-bent on driving up the cost of coal, they’ve got a way to go, notwithstanding all the damage they’ll do to your wallet in the process. It’s not even close, and they still try to cheat.
The Denver Post this morning reports that a lack of rare earths may be inhibiting the domestic solar cell industry. How this is so, they never quite describe. There’s no calculation, for instance, of what percent of a solar panel’s production cost comes from rare earths. Possibly, this is because rare earths aren’t actually used in the production of solar cells. According to a DOE study on strategic materials, solar cells use indium, tellurium, gallium, and maybe soon, selenium, none of which is in the lathanide series of rare earths. A briefing by the Rare Earth Industry Trade Association on the importance of rare earths to green energy applications doesn’t mention solar at all.
By coincidence, the New York Times this morning ran a piece on why solar panel manufacturers are relocating to China, and it seems that the reason has nothing to do with rare earths, which aren’t mentioned at all, and everything to do with our willingness to take the place of Germany and Spain in directing massive subsidies to the panels’ production. And in spite of our increasing mandates on so-called renewable energy as a source of electricity, it’s also not clear that we’ll be willing to force utilities to pay the exorbitant rates necessary to make large solar arrays profitable.
That, not the absence of a local rare earth supply, is what’s threatening a domestic solar industry.