Posts Tagged ‘Clean Tech’
April 5th, 2012 at 11:37 am
Nevada Green Energy Initiative Spends Over $400,000 to Save Less than $3,000
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Clean energy is the dream that refuses to die. From the Obama Administration on down, liberal politicians throughout the nation are constantly promising “green jobs” boomlets, acting as though the only thing standing between a better future where energy is both cleaner and more affordable is political will and obstructionist special interests. In reality, the real hurdle to achieving their dream is substantially higher: the economics just don’t work out. A recent initiative in Nevada shows the complete fiscal folly underpinning clean tech. From the Las Vegas Sun:

The electricity produced by NV Energy’s $46 million wind rebate program has fallen far short of expectations.

In a startling example, the city of Reno’s wind turbines — for which the city received more than $150,000 in rate-payer funded rebates — produced dramatically less electricity than the manufacturers of its turbines promised.

As first reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal, one turbine that cost the city $21,000 to install saved the city $4 on its energy bill. Overall, $416,000 worth of turbines have netted the city $2,800 in energy savings.

That means that the savings from the Nevada program have equaled only about 2/3 of 1% of the cost of installing the turbines. Remind me again, isn’t the oft-cited goal for this new era of technological progress to promote science and math?

February 1st, 2012 at 5:44 pm
Who Killed the Electric Car? The People Who Made It
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Over at RealClearMarkets, the American Enterprise Institute’s Kenneth Green has a wonderful take-down of California’s delusional alternative energy mandate, which would “require that 15.4 percent of all vehicles sold by 2025 must be electric cars, plug-in hybrid cars, or (currently non-existent) fuel cell cars.” Green notes that this is the second time the Golden State has gone down this road, after a similar mandate — imposed back in 1990 — had to be scrapped due to its total infeasibility.

As you may recall, it used to be fashionable amongst conspiracy-minded greens to posit that the electric car had been undermined by some nefarious cabal of big oil, the auto industry, and hydrogen fuel cell advocates. They even made a film about it: 2006’s “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, which included the contributions of such noted experts in transportation economics as Martin Sheen, Mel Gibson, and Phyllis Diller. As Green points out, however, the electric car and its alternative fuel cousins have never taken the market by storm for a much simpler reason — they’re just not economically viable:

The GM Volt sells for a non-competitive $40,000, and is barely selling despite federal tax subsidies up to $7,500, and some state subsidies that further sweeten the pot. Plug-in hybrid technology is more expensive to manufacture, more expensive to repair, more expensive to insure, and, after 22 years, they still have overheating and fire problems.

As Robert Bryce points out in his book Power Hungry, electric cars are the “Next Big Thing. And they always will be.” Bryce observes that EV-boosters have been flogging electric cars since 1911, when the New York Times declared that “the electric car “has long been recognized as the ideal solution” because it “is cleaner and quieter” and “much more economical.”

Scan the hard data on any alternative energy source being promoted as a panacea and you’ll find much the same thing: Too little performance for too much money and too little convenience. And that’s the real tragedy of mandates like California’s or federal handouts to firms like Solyndra. The reality is that we probably will shift away from our reliance on conventional sources of energy like coal and oil in the future. But in order to do so, alternative energy sources will have to be scalable, affordable, and efficient. Providing subsidies for those technologies before they reach that point only delays their viability by reducing the financial incentive to get a better product to market.

The upshot? Reliable green energy may indeed be on the horizon for California. But if it does arrive, it will be because of the efforts of businessmen, not bureaucrats.