Nov 9, 2010

Green Energy is tanking a bit in the recession

Hard to believe that Green Energy did better in the USA during the go-go days of 06 and 07 than during the recession of the succeeding years to date.

Reason is multifarious but includes the fact that the go-go years drove traditional energy prices way up as China's growth unfolded. Also China now has such large capacity of Photovoltaic production that solar prices are dropping. 

You would think this would promote more  solar jobs in the USA but sadly many jobs are kick-started with government money and although the IRS tax credit is still available, many local and state rebates have been delayed or unpaid since the states are fighting to survive.

We see the entire scenario as very sad and tremendous opportunity wasted. What America needs now is DEMAND to come out of an economic funk created by financial industry malfeasance and what a great way to create that DEMAND by renewing the American energy infrastructure forcing America to leave it's current energy model and adopt the model it will be forced to enact sometime in the next 50 years-that of alternative energy

We just do not have the leadership to pull off this demand. Yes some of the Stimulus Bill was directed at weatherization and their were select solar jobs that got stimulus money but we could have really set the stage for another Y2K type of investment only unlike Y2K this would be money very well spent and would create many new jobs and investment

So I guess we muddle along for another decade and change very slowly?

Here are selections from a recent NY Times article on how renewables market share has been cut in the past 2 years.

Even as many politicians, environmentalists and consumers want renewable energy and reduced dependence on fossil fuels, a growing number of projects are being canceled or delayed because governments are unwilling to add even small amounts to consumers’ electricity bills.

Deals to buy renewable power have been scuttled or slowed in states including Florida, Idaho and Kentucky as well as Virginia.

By the end of the third quarter, year-to-date installations of new wind power dropped 72 percent from 2009 levels, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group.

Electricity generated from wind or sun still generally costs more — and sometimes a lot more — than the power squeezed from coal or natural gas. Prices for fossil fuels have dropped in part because the recession has reduced demand. In the case of natural gas, newer drilling techniques have opened the possibility of vast new supplies for years to come.

The gap in price can pit regulators, who see their job as protecting consumers from unreasonable rates, against renewable energy developers and utility companies, many of which are willing to pay higher prices now to ensure a broader energy portfolio in the future.

In April, for example, the state public utilities commission in Rhode Island rejected a power-purchase deal for an offshore wind project that would have cost 24.4 cents a kilowatt-hour. The utility now pays about 9.5 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity from fossil fuels.

The state legislature responded by passing a bill allowing the regulators to consider factors other than price. The commission then approved an agreement to buy electricity from a smaller wind farm, although that decision is being challenged in the courts.
Similarly, in Kentucky this year, the public service commission voted down a contract for a local utility, Kentucky Power, to buy electricity from NextEra Energy Resources in Illinois.
According to the commission, Kentucky Power argued that the contract would position the utility “to better meet growing environmental requirements and impending government portfolio mandates for renewable energy” and that it would benefit customers.

But Kentucky’s attorney general, Jack Conway, joined by business and industrial electricity users, opposed the deal, contending that it would have increased a typical residential customer’s rates by about 0.7 percent and was “a discretionary expense” that the utility’s customers could ill afford.
Commissioner James W. Gardner, the lone dissenting commissioner, protested that “there is a necessity for this power” and said that “there are great pressures nationally and in Kentucky to increase renewables.”

Companies that make solar cells and wind machines argue that a national energy policy is needed to guarantee them a market that will allow their industry to develop. Clean power will be an important industry globally for years, they say, and if the United States does not subsidize renewable energy now, it risks falling far behind other countries.

They point to China, which is rapidly increasing the amount of electricity it generates from renewable sources. In its most recent quarterly assessment of the renewable energy sector, the accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young identified China as the most attractive market for investment in renewable energy.

In part, the analysis suggested, this reflected the failure of American lawmakers to pass a national renewable energy standard and the looming expiration of a Treasury program that allowed renewable developers to receive cash grants in lieu of tax credits.

In Europe, many national governments have guaranteed prices for energy from sun or wind. As a result, renewable advocates say, many countries are on track to meet the European Union’s goal of 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The United States has relied on a combination of state renewable energy mandates and federal tax credits to encourage greater reliance on energy from renewable sources. Legislation that would have set a price on carbon-dioxide emissions and included a standard for increasing the share of clean energy in the nation’s electricity portfolio failed in Congress this year.

To be sure, a lot of renewable power development is still going forward. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that wind farms capable of producing 6,300 megawatts of wind power are under construction, and that a busy second half of 2010 would leave installations about 50 percent behind last year. Solar power is becoming less expensive, and its use is expanding rapidly. But it still accounts for less than 1 percent of the nation’s electricity needs, providing enough to serve about 350,000 homes.

Renewable energy supporters argue that higher fossil fuel prices will eventually make renewable energy more competitive — and at times over the last two decades, when the price for natural gas has spiked, wind power in particular has been a relative bargain. Advocates also argue that while the costs might be higher now, as the technology matures and supply chains and manufacturing bases take root, clean sources of power will become more attractive.

Fold in the higher costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels on human health, the climate and the environment, many advocates argue, and renewable technologies like wind power are already cheaper.
 
selections of the above are thanks to the NY Times.com

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