Friday, October 19, 2012

Obama creates Green on Green bloodbath in Energy world

I am conservative with a home in Baja that is totally off grid. I didn't build it to save the snail darter or reserve a seat at the table of Gaia and the other Environmental Gods in Green Heaven. I and the other neighbors (several thousand Gringos) in my area built solar homes, because we love the desert sun and the view of the ocean.

When we meet at the local coffee hangout by the beach, we discuss yesterday's sports scores, but at least once a day we chat about our energy systems the way teenagers used to discuss their four barrel carbs on their hot rods. Wind power, PV, propane, Solar Thermal, generators, etc. Old timers try to impress newbies with what the new technology they saw in Popular Mechanics.

The fact that just north of the border, California carefully regulates where one can build, communities like this would be too costly to spring up in this way. Small tinkerers is where new ideas are born, but Obama was in a hurry and that meant go big, go fast, and flood the green world with money.

I was reading a list of the dozens of big companies that Obama funded that went under. One of them was a company I had heard about from some of the local alternative energy experts. It was called Stirling Energy and they recently filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Although I do not know the details, but I've been told they were driven to bankruptcy by competing Photovoltaic price drops caused by artificially volatile prices in PV technology which as you know is the darling of Obama's "On Grid" Energy experts. Obama's energy eggheads live in traditional on grid houses, but they have read a lot about Alternative energy, so they pick winners and losers and are also under a deadline.

Stirling had bet on a fascinating technology, of which there are many, that competes with PV and is not as favored as PV. They only got $7 million. But this is how winners and losers are chosen and how green on green violence occurs in the alternative energy world. Stirling Energy had plans to build a solar thermal plant in the Mojave Desert. The Imperial Valley is sunny year round and can get as hot as 120 degrees F.

I don't know the exact Solar thermal specs of this company's product, but here is the general principle of Stirling engines. The technology is based on an idea around since the 19th century. A Stirling engine is similar to a steam engine, but with fluids more likely to be found in a refrigerator or air conditioner. This allows an engine to run with heat differentials of 60 degrees. Meaning a fluid that is heated by solar reflectors or concentrators to let's say 160 degrees can be run in to the ground or in water by tubes to cool to below 100F and you have a large scale energy source. The efficiency and price will always struggle to compete with PV, especially if PV is subsidized.

The Stirling engine and solar thermal is an interesting technology for tis area, because it can be developed and maintained by locals at relatively low cost in a region with lots of sun and modest incomes, compared to PVs which we all own down here, but they are high tech, high price and made by big corporations. But now with Obama subsidies PV prices have dropped, for now, and crowded out other innovative technologies. Will the prices stay low? Will the subsidies continue for ever? Who gets the favored status? No one knows.

Here is a description of Stirlings bankruptcy:

Stirling Energy caves in against PV's falling costs

06 October 2011
Stirling Energy Systems has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as the stirling dish technology could not compete against the falling costs of solar photovoltaics (PV), according to media reports.

By Kari Williamson

A sign of the trouble to come was already visible at the beginning of the year when Stirling Energy's development arm, Tessera Solar, sold off its two large projects, the 709 MW Imperial project and the 850 MW Calico project to AES Solar and K.Road, respectively.

According to Reuters, Stirling had assets of US$1-10 million, whereas liabilities were in the US$50-100m range.

Stirling Energy's website has been down since the story broke in US media.

I am all for Alternative energy innovation, but Obama clearly has no clue about what it means to "go green", as they say. I know people that have windmills and PVs to supplement their on grid power, but when you are completely off gird, you think about your wattage all the time. I don't think Mr. Obama will ever have a passing thought about wattage. So how can he or his people save the economy by creating a green revolution which he promised, by rigging the system.

Here is that list of green busts:

It is no secret that President Obama’s and green-energy supporters’ (from both parties) foray into venture capitalism has not gone well. But the extent of its failure has been largely ignored by the press. Sure, single instances garner attention as they happen, but they ignore past failures in order to make it seem like a rare case.

The truth is that the problem is widespread. The government’s picking winners and losers in the energy market has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and the rate of failure, cronyism, and corruption at the companies receiving the subsidies is substantial. The fact that some companies are not under financial duress does not make the policy a success. It simply means that our taxpayer dollars subsidized companies that would’ve found the financial support in the private market.

The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:

Evergreen Solar ($24 million)*
SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
Solyndra ($535 million)*
Beacon Power ($69 million)*
AES’s subsidiary Eastern Energy ($17.1 million)
Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
SunPower ($1.5 billion)
First Solar ($1.46 billion)
Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
Amonix ($5.9 million)
National Renewable Energy Lab ($200 million)
Fisker Automotive ($528 million)
Abound Solar ($374 million)*
A123 Systems ($279 million)*
Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($6 million)
Johnson Controls ($299 million)
Schneider Electric ($86 million)
Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
ECOtality ($126.2 million)
Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
Range Fuels ($80 million)*
Thompson River Power ($6.4 million)*
Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
LSP Energy ($2.1 billion)*
UniSolar ($100 million)*
Azure Dynamics ($120 million)*
GreenVolts ($500,000)
Vestas ($50 million)
LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($150 million)
Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
Navistar ($10 million)
Satcon ($3 million)*

*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.

When I see the coffee gang of popsci engineers these days, several of them complain about certain technologies that were once up and coming and they were all excited to see how the technologies would develop, but unfortunately for these tinkerers, the field has been narrowed, not expanded by Eggheads in Washington trying to earn a place in green heaven. But even in the Green universe, good intentions don't earn a spot in green heaven, it gives you a one way ticket down the giant slide to a very Geothermal place.

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