Absolutely Inevitable

If you move solar panels out of the Arizona desert, they are going to produce less electricity.  You almost don't have to tell me where they are going -- if they are currently close to the optimal spot for maximum solar energy production, then moving them is bound to reduce their output.

Seems obvious, huh?  So why is it so difficult to understand that when the government moves capital and other resources away from the industries where the forces of market optimization have put it, output is going to go down.

Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain's experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

U.S. President Barack Obama's 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills -- translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish "green job" created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

"The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices," he said in an interview.

We all know from reading the media that the Obama administration is 1) full of brilliant people way smarter than the rest of us and 2) driven by science.  So this insightful exchange between a reporter and White House spokesman Robert GIbbs vis a vis this Spanish study should come as no surprise:

Q: Back on the President's speech today, a Spanish professor, Gabriel [Calzada] Álvarez, says after conducting a study, that in his country, creating green jobs has actually cost more jobs than it has led to: 2.2 jobs lost, he says, for every job created. And he has issued a report that specifically warns the President not to try and follow Spain's example.

MR. GIBBS: It seems weird that we're importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build "” to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case.

Q Is that a suggestion that his study is simply flat wrong?

MR. GIBBS: I haven't read the study, but I think, yes.

Q Well, then. (Laughter.)

In two sentences, Mr. Gibbs demonstrates that 1) He is an idiot and 2) He has no respect for science.  The correct, intelligent response would be "I can't comment, I have not read the study yet."  Mr. Gibbs does deserve credit for being an apparent master of the non-sequitur.  I have been trying to think of an eqivilent formulation.  The best I can come up with is to suppose someone said that "publicly funded sports stadiums generate no new economic activity and are just a taxpayer subsidy of sports owners, players, and ticket holders" and getting the response that  "how can this be when people still go to the games?"

I was afraid that all this braininess in the White House was going to eliminate the humor from Administration pronouncements but I see that won't be the case.

  • Ed Fargler

    MR. GIBBS: It seems weird that we’re importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build — to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case.

    Mr. Gibbs is truly stupid. Spanish companies will certainly build and export as many turbine parts as we would like to buy. I'm sure if we desired to buy sand instead of oil from Saudi Arabia, the kingdom would be happy to oblige.

  • Sandman

    I also like this one: "to meet renewable energy demand here". There is energy demand here, but there is certainly no 'renewable energy demand'. Another use of words to make this sound like a market problem as opposed to a government mandate.

  • J.M. Skillman

    Read: How to Win Every Argument, The Use and Abuse of Logic by Madsen Pirie to combat illogical jibberish arguments.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy

    "So why is it so difficult to understand that when the government moves capital and other resources away from the industries where the forces of market optimization have put it, output is going to go down."

    Rhetorical question, I guess. But, I've encountered several different answers. Mostly they don't believe that the market optimizes the use of resources or they feel that the market is optimizing on the wrong metric.

    The rest of your story is a poster child for the latter case: the damn fool market is optimizing on power-per-unit-dollar, when they feel it *should* be optimizing on "greenness".

    That, of course, constitutes a market "failure", and necessitates governmental intervention.

    See, it all makes sense.

  • Allen

    So according to what Mr. Gibbs is saying we're replacing our dependence on foreigners for energy with dependence on foreigners for energy?

  • DrTorch

    Allen,
    Brilliant point!

    Talking about solar panels...why!? Solar thermal seems to be far more efficient, and cost effective. Why are we (as a country) being so sold on photovoltaics (which are always just a decade away) when solar thermal is here and now, and working?

  • rxc

    The purpose of the "renewable energy" movement is NOT to produce more energy. It is really intended to produce LESS energy, in such as way as to give control over the distribution of that energy to the dominant political class. The new "smart grid" fad is intended to install equipment in each house and business that responds to an external signal that controls whether the equipment in that house operates or not. When the grid controllers want to shed load, they send out a signal and the equipment they want to drop, turns itself off.

    I just recently heard an explanation on NPR from a proponent, and she came perilously close to explaining the ultimate phase of this project. In response to a question she said that people would initially be given financial incentives to participate in the "smart grid", but once there were a majority of customers hooked up, financial incentives would no longer be needed. The clear implication is that when enough are hooked up, the rest can be ordered to do so, and then the grid controllers can get to work with a vengence.

    Now think about it - when energy supplies need to be allocated, because the supply system was not designed to meet any demand that could reasonably be place on it, if a region that is not politically "correct" happens to need more energy, they will just be prevented from doing stuff that is not accepted by the grid controllers. At the lowest level, with IPv6, each device in your home could have its own address that is known by the grid controllers, and they could target(i.e., turn off) individual devices in any person's house. This is REAL control. And it is headed our way.

  • tomw

    Quote:"...someone said that “publicly funded sports stadiums generate no new economic activity and are just a taxpayer subsidy of sports owners, players, and ticket holders” and getting the response that “how can this be when people still go to the games?”

    Nope.

    The response would have been "...how can this be when so many local governments are perfectly willing to tax their subjects to build these moneylosers?"

    Isn't that what subsidy of solar, wind, biomass, etc are? Government decision to tax their subjects because "they know what is best for us", though we have yet to see them run anything more complex than a lemonade stand. And make a profit.

    tom
    yeah, I am cynical. I am so tired of the KnowNothings deciding MY [you guys too, but I can't be mad for you..] future.

  • SB

    Why move solar panels from Arizona?
    Just install new ones and leave the old ones where they are.
    I am fed up with seeing foriegn nationals calling us the great Satan wearing a rolex paid for by by my gasoline purchases. If my tax dollars can be used to end dependance on foreign oil I will starve myself to see it suceed!!
    Monies spent on new technologies don't deprive the old established technologies untill the new are suceeding.
    In this case the old tech's are the Saudi's and Iranians and I would love to see them wither under the new technology of renewable energy.
    The most sucessful new technologies will likely be paired with current distribution companies. So American and European companies continue to profit at the expense of those who hate us.