Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Sounds like a scam, huh? But it’s real. Let me explain how people (no, not you or me, don’t be foolish) can make a guaranteed 29% return on their investment. However, to make it clear, I’ll need to take a short digression. I ran across a National Geographic article on where the world gets its electricity. Here are their figures:
Figure 1. World electricity production by fuel type. Renewables (defined by AGW activists as solar-, geothermal-, wind-, and biomass-generated electricity, but not hydroelectricity) are 2.7% of the total electricity use. Data from National Geographic
You can see why the AGW supporters’ heads are exploding as the Durban climate party approaches. It is obvious from the chart that years and years of subsidies and tax breaks and IPCC reports and various urgings by well-meaning but clueless pundits and billions in wasted taxpayer dollars have not succeeded in getting renewables up to even 3% of the total electricity generated. Less than 3%. It must drive them round the twist to contemplate their stunning lack of success at making water flow uphill.
Despite that history, you know how they say on those TV commercials, “But wait! There’s even more!”? In this case, it’s “But wait! There’s even less!”
The reason that its even less is that Figure 1 just shows electricity. It doesn’t show total energy consumed, which is a much larger number. Total global energy consumption is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. World energy consumption by source. “Renewables” are solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass. Note that the traditional use of firewood for cooking is not included. Data from the BP Statistical Review
So although renewables have (finally) gotten to 2.7% of the electricity production, they still only represent 1.3% of the global energy consumption. And this is with heaps of subsidies.
And I don’t mean just a bit of money to get them over the hump. Huge subsidies. Because of the total failure of renewables to penetrate the market, the AGW supporters are desperately throwing money at renewable technologies. The New York Times showed a graphic for one such power plant in California. Their graphic is reproduced below as Figure 3.
Unfortunately, the Times didn’t really discuss the business implications of this chart, so let me remedy that omission.
First, how much money did the investors have to put in? Since the project will start earning money once the key is turned and the market is guaranteed, the investors only had to put up the total capital outlay of $1.6 billion. Less, of course, the generous government grant of nearly half a billion dollars. Total invested, therefore, is $1,170 million dollars.
On that money, the investors stand to make a net present value of $334 million dollars … which means that due to the screwing of the taxpayers and ratepayers, a few very wealthy investors are GUARANTEED A RETURN OF 29% ON THEIR INVESTMENT!!!
How is this fair in any sane universe? AGW supporters talk about the 1% having too much money, and here the same folks are shoveling the money into the one percenters’ pockets. The 1% weren’t rich enough already, so I have to foot the bill for them to get a GUARANTEED 29% RETURN on their investment?
Note also that a huge part of the money, some $462 million dollars, is coming from the California electricity ratepayers, including yours truly, through increased charges for electricity. This means that these solar scam artists are being allowed to sell their power at 50% ABOVE MARKET PRICES!!! Not just a little bit above market. Fifty percent above the market price! Where is the California Public Utilities Commission whose job is to protect the consumer? Oh, I see … the are the ones who agreed to the 50% above market rate hike … for shame.
Pardon my screaming, but this insanity angrifies my blood mightily. Ripping off both the consumer and the taxpayer to allow millionaires to make a guaranteed 29% return on a not-ready-for-market technology, and charging ratepayers 50% above market for the electricity? That is reprehensible and indefensible. In particular, the rate hikes hit the poor much harder than the wealthy, so we are billing the poor to line the pockets of the 1% … and all this in the name of enlightened carbon fears.
A few last numbers to consider. Without the layers and layers of subsidies, the investors would have had to put in $1.6 billion, and they would have suffered a loss of $1.1 billion dollars. The investors wouldn’t lose just a little, they’d lose their shirts, their pants and their ties … and seventy percent of the money they put in. That’s how far this technology is from being marketable. Not just a little ways short of profitability. A long, long, long ways from being marketable, more than a billion dollars short of making a profit.
Finally, the total subsidies for this plant were $1,430 million dollars. So this single “successful” green project will cost the consumer three times what Solyndra cost. And in return … we get energy priced at 50% above the market. Thanks, Energy Department, glad to know you have my back.
You can see why I’m screaming … the inmates have taken over the asylum. Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, says we need more successful green projects in order to survive the depression … me, I fear we won’t survive Secretary Chu.
I know we won’t survive if we follow Chu’s brilliant plan for ‘successful green projects’ that do nothing but line the pockets of the 1% with billions in subsidies. That path is the poster child for the concept “unsustainable”, and Secretary Chu is the poster child for the brilliant idiot. He is undoubtedly a genius in his scientific field, but whoever unlocked his ivory tower and let him loose on the business world has some serious explaining to do.
Here is the problem with Energy Secretary Chu. His failures are bad enough. But his successes are lethal.