Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Wind and Solar Energy Haven't Lived Up to Hype

Heck, even the Europeans are starting to doubt the sustainability of these "fantastic" green energy sources.

James Shott · May 16, 2017

The bad news keeps piling up for what we have been told are superior energy sources. Even European countries, with their strong preference for things that don’t work, like socialist government, have begun pulling back from wind as a major energy source, and solar isn’t doing so well, either.

German-owned solar panel producer SolarWorld has filed for what it termed “insolvency” in a European court, saying it was “over-indebted” and did not have a “positive going concern prognosis.” Translated into the plain language of American business, SolarWorld is filing for bankruptcy.

In America, bankruptcy does not necessarily mean the end for a company, so perhaps “insolvency” is only a temporary detour, but it certainly falls well below the description of a successful company.

Here at home, that raises concerns over the company’s U.S. division, SolarWorld America, Inc., which operates a $600 million panel plant in Hillsboro, Oregon. Democrat Gov. Ted Kulongoski praised the plant as an economic development beacon “in the Silicon forest” during a ribbon-cutting ceremony, also attended by Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and then-Rep. David Wu.

The facility was purchased in 2007 from Japan’s Komatsu Group, and by 2012 had collected $57 million in Business Energy Tax Credits from the state. Reports say it now has received $100 million in tax breaks just from state and local governments. It also benefitted from a $4 million grant from Barack Obama’s Department of Energy.

SolarWorld notes, however, that despite its problems in Germany, the Hillsboro plant that employs 800 people continues to operate. The question now is how long before the Oregon plant, which its previous owner wanted rid of, joins the infamous Solyndra and Solar Trust green energy fiascos that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars?

Across the country in Rhode Island a new offshore wind farm just went online last week. The five-turbine farm cost $300 million and currently powers just 2,000 homes, which works out to a bargain-basement price of only $150,000 per household. Ultimately, it is expected to power 17,000 homes, which will substantially lower the cost per home, but progressives and environmentalists believe the price per home isn’t important. They believe that “it’s the precedent that counts,” according to Salon.

The Daily Caller News Foundation calculated the difference in wind and nuclear power by comparing this wind farm with a new nuclear plant, Watts Bar Unit 2, which cost $4.7 billion to build. The important difference is not the price, but the result: The nuclear facility will power 4.5 million homes at a comparatively cheap $1,044 per house.

Even with 17,000 customers, the wind farm is still 17 times more expensive than nuclear. Despite this ridiculous situation, the feds want to use offshore wind to power 23 million homes by 2050. However, Germany has finally been shocked into reality as to the inefficiency of wind power, and now plans to stop building wind facilities.

Further illustrating the calamity of the world’s environmental mania is the condition of the environment. The Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), which because of its European connection ought to have more credibility with the environmental faction than do Americans who don’t buy into the green energy hype, made data public recently that even the most strident greenie ought to consider.

As published by the UK Telegraph, “ever since December temperatures in the Arctic have consistently been lower than minus 20 [degrees] C. In April the extent of Arctic sea ice was back to where it was in April 13 years ago. Furthermore, whereas in 2008 most of the ice was extremely thin, this year most has been at least two metres thick. The Greenland ice cap last winter increased in volume faster than at any time for years.”

The Telegraph goes on to say that “as for those record temperatures brought in 2016 by an exceptionally strong El Niño, the satellites now show that in recent months global temperatures have plummeted by more than 0.6 degrees, just as happened 17 years ago after a similarly strong El Niño had also made 1998 the ‘hottest year on record.’”

The DMI reported actual measurements of climate information, rather than the results of climate models, which are projections that are mostly, if not always, wrong. The DMI data shows there has been no additional warming for the last 19 years, which is “an inconvenient truth,” to environmental zealots.

The shortcomings of wind and solar power and the mounting evidence that fossil fuels have not caused the environment to warm significantly cast doubt on the idea that we need expensive “green” energy. In addition to their high costs, wind and solar energy are inefficient, and not as “green” as advertised. Both cause environmental harm in their construction and operation.

As with most things, the secret to better, cleaner energy is through free market processes, not government force. As technology develops, improvements in how we use fossil fuels make even the dirtiest sources much cleaner and less objectionable. This process may also make wind and solar energy more efficient, and therefore desirable. But until then, wind and solar are more akin to very expensive unicorn dust, and leftists are wrong to redistribute taxpayer dollars to prop it up.

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