Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Scandal of Solar Power in Spain

[Chris Horner]
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

“Think about what’s happening in countries like Spain.” It seems so long ago that Barack Obama thus instructed us — eight times — to ponder his model for a “green jobs” economy. Regular readers of Planet Gore — and particularly those who read Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America — know the backstory on Spain’s embrace of renewables. It was just over one year ago that, responding to Obama’s call to examine these policies, Gabriel Calzada et al. published their “Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources” [PDF], which detailed the job-killing effects of state investment in inefficient and unreliable power.

You may recall, too, the Obama administration’s sleazy efforts to smear this work. They were attacked here and in Spain by vested interests, Big Green, and the Spanish Communist trade union. Their supposed crime was being unpatriotic — that is, letting the cat out of the bag about the true cost of green-jobs schemes before the U.S. had committed to them and thereby bailed out Spain’s “bubble” industries.

It’s been an eventful week in Spain on the issue, so allow us to gloat.

On Tuesday, the story finally made it onto the front page of Expansión (their equivalent of the Financial Times) — earning coverage by an editorial and two opeds, as well.

The paper’s front page screams: “the cost of renewables skyrockets to 6.2 billion euros” — though that number refers only to the feed-in tariffs of last year alone. (Hey . . . skyrocketing. No wonder Obama cast his longing gaze Spain’s way!)

The title of one article inside is “To subsidize the renewables costs 250 euros [appx. $335] every year in electricity to each consumer.”
The editorial decries “the unsustainable cost of renewables.”

Keep in mind that Expansión had great difficulties in commenting on the Calzada report a year ago, due to the state of the debate and intense political pressure prior to their study.

Further, the president of Gas Natural has decided to attack the renewables scheme directly, as revealed in a Libertad Digital article titled “Gas Natural criticizes the government for investing in renewables that we do not need.” He is quoted as asking, “Are we so rich as to invest in something that we do not need? Do we have so much extra money?”

Calzada informs me that the precipitating event for this outburst of honesty was that, in recent weeks, the government has recognized that electricity costs went up 23 percent last year due to subsidies for solar power. Also helpful was a solar scandal that Calzada described to me a couple of months back but that could not be established as fact at that time: Owners of solar fields had placed oil generators next to their solar fields to simulate more electricity production from the solar panels, for which they were reimbursed at the highly subsidized solar rate.

The scandal was finally uncovered because, after years of conducting this fraud without inspections, the greedy rascals were doing it even at night.
Now, no matter what sort of absurd cheerleading President Obama engages in about Spanish technology — similar to his inanity about windmills being “new technology” (yes, he says that) — I am certain that even Spanish solar panels are not so advanced as to produce electricity at night.

Today there are more developments. According to an e-mail from Calzada, more op-eds and articles are on the way. There are also rumors reported throughout Spanish media that the government is considering a reduction of the subsidy (again) — not only for new installation but also for existing capacity.

As a result, stocks of renewable companies are falling. Here is a report with graphics at Libertad Digital.

So it appears that brave souls like Calzada et al. are winning this battle against the cobardes verde. At least the battle of arguments. The politics . . . well . . . that’ll come.

— Chris Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a best-selling author. His latest book is Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America.

04/21 12:25 PM Share

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