You'd've thunk that after flushing a half-billion taxpayer dollars down the toilet on Solyndra, Barack Obama and his administration might have learned something. Alas, 'twas not the case. Hopefully, events in Germany might provide Obama with the impetus to change course, although changing course is something not seen throughout the Obama regime.
The German government subsidies for solar electricity have moved past the €100 billion mark. This is what they get:
For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no electricity. The days are short, the weather is bad and the sky is overcast.
As is so often the case in winter, all solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity at the same time. To avert power shortages, Germany currently has to import large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic. To offset the temporary loss of solar power, grid operator Tennet resorted to an emergency backup plan, powering up an old oil-fired plant in the Austrian city of Graz.
Solar energy has gone from being the great white hope, to an impediment, to a reliable energy supply. Solar farm operators and homeowners with solar panels on their roofs collected more than €8 billion ($10.2 billion) in subsidies in 2011, but the electricity they generated made up only about 3 percent of the total power supply, and that at unpredictable times.
The German government would have us believe they know of the real reason why this bubble is bursting. China:
This week, he [ed. note - Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen] will meet with representatives of the solar industry, which faces tough economic times as a result of competition from China...
Chinese competitors offer systems of equivalent quality at significantly lower prices.
That's nothing but a smokescreen. There are two other real reasons. First [emphasis mine]:
It appears that the subsidies have made the German manufacturers lethargic. They invest only 2 to 3 percent of revenues in research and development, compared with an average of 6 percent in the auto industry and about 30 percent in biomedicine.
If I were an OWS-type person, I might think that these solar corporations use the subsidies to line the pockets of the wealthy. However, it appears the subsidies are used just to maintain the solar companies' extremely expensive systems.
The No. 2 real reason why this bubble is bursting:
The distribution networks are not designed to allow tens of thousands of solar panel owners to switch at will between drawing electricity from the grid and feeding power into it. Because there are almost no storage options, the excess energy has to be destroyed at substantial cost.
In other words, mass commercialization of solar power isn't ready for prime time.
So how did they get into this mess?
Solar lobbyists like to dazzle the public with impressive figures on the capability of solar energy. For example, they say that all installed systems together could generate a nominal output of more than 20 gigawatts, or twice as much energy as is currently being produced by the remaining German nuclear power plants.
But this is pure theory. The solar energy systems can only operate at this peak capacity when optimally exposed to the sun's rays... -- in other words, under conditions that hardly ever exist outside a laboratory.
They were hornswoggled:
In fact, all German solar energy systems combined produce less electricity than two nuclear power plants. And even that number is sugarcoated, because solar energy in a relatively cloudy country like Germany has to be backed up with reserve power plants. This leads to a costly, and basically unnecessary, dual structure.
Certain lefties say Communism looked great on paper, too. Except that it really wasn't since its authors never factored in the human response to it. And its obvious German politicians were taken in by the solar lobbyists' razzle-dazzle. What's truly fascinating is how influential German scientists could have warned the politicians of the snake oil being marketed. Instead, many scientists who have a voice in their governments, those who say "the science is settled" regarding man-made global warming, demanded the German government fund their worship of the religion of Anthropogenic Climatism; it is these flat-earth, no-growth Marxists who are heavily to blame for this.
While it is true that there is competition from China, it remains to be seen how long China can continue subsidizing its solar power industry on slave labor considering their products are cheaper, but not better or more technologically advanced. Even taking out the China equation, I don't see how German solar companies could remain competitive for any length of time with a product that is not ready for mass commercialization.
There's more in the piece and I encourage it be read in its entirety. Considering Germany is bankrolling the EU, getting out of subsidizing solar power has to be considered a requirement if the Germans hope to retain any semblance of an economy.
As for the U.S., unfortunately, we still have the unchanging Barack Obama and his sycophants who still practice the false religion of Anthropogenic Climatism.
Cross-posted at Scipio the Metalcon.