Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘green energy’

Green energy insanity

Posted by Richard on April 22, 2014

If you asked a bunch of economists to name the dumbest green energy idea, most would probably say it’s the ethanol mandate. Half the US corn crop is now turned into ethanol and poured into our gas tanks, causing the price of corn to more than double. That in turn has driven up food prices. Beef and pork are up almost 10% in just the past year. Other foods have become more expensive as well, as more and more acreage has been diverted from other crops to the more profitable corn. And of course, as with all green energy programs, we’re paying more for the energy we use. The effect here in the US is that we’re all made a little poorer. The effect on the world’s truly poor is much worse.

The idea is so bad that even environmentalists have turned against it, since it’s now clear that growing corn, turning it into ethanol, and blending it with gasoline actually produces more CO2 than just using gasoline alone. The only people left who like the idea are the ruling class Republicans and Democrats in Washington — it’s a combination of corporate welfare, crony socialism, and bureaucratic control of the economy that appeals to their basest instincts.

But as bad as the ethanol mandate is, now there’s something even dumber. The Brits have come up with a green energy project that’s so crazy-stupid it’s hard to believe. They’re going to clear-cut forests in North Carolina, turn the hundred-year-old trees into wood pellets, and ship a million metric tons of these wood pellets per year across the Atlantic to a power plant in Yorkshire, England. Where they’ll be burned to produce electricity. In place of coal.

Does it need to be pointed out that this insane idea will significantly increase the amount of CO2 produced by the power plant (20% more than burning coal, twice as much as natural gas)? And that the electricity produced will be far, far more expensive?

Presumably, the coal being displaced comes from nearby, perhaps Wales. What will become of it? Well, either less coal will be mined, and thus fewer miners employed, or the coal that the Brits can’t bring themselves to use will be loaded aboard ships and sent to someplace where green energy mania has not yet reached such heights — or is it depths? North Carolinians, Britons, and the planet will all be worse off.

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The Solyndra of Colorado

Posted by Richard on October 26, 2012

During one of the debates, in the context of green energy company subsidies, Romney said to Obama, “You don’t pick winners and losers, you pick losers!” The feds have repeatedly loaned large sums to companies that couldn’t stay in business even with a government crutch (I think the last count I saw was 19).

But it’s not just that government guarantees attract the uncompetitive and incompetent. This kind of crony capitalism (the only kind of capitalism the Obama administration seems to like) also inevitably attracts crooks and scoundrels. We may have an example here in Colorado. David Harsanyi has the story:

It was one of Barack Obama’s favorite green-energy companies. And green-energy companies, according to the president, are one of the best ways to facilitate economic growth.

Well, yesterday, The Denver Post detailed the criminal investigation of Abound Solar, a defunct solar-panel manufacturer in Colorado that was run on taxpayer “investments,” for securities fraud, consumer fraud and financial misrepresentation.

Abound shuttered its Colorado plant during the summer and filed for bankruptcy, leaving “125 workers without jobs and taxpayers holding the bag for up to $60 million in defaulted loans.” …

The story of how the Denver Post finally came to report the Abound Solar story is itself quite interesting. It took a billboard across from their offices to shame them into reporting this important local story. Check out:

 

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