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  • Renewable Energy: The Road Less Traveled for a Reason

    President Obama has been touting green energy investment and green jobs since his campaign trail, but he really kicked it into another gear once the economy tanked, calling the green stimulus a cure to the recession and to climate change. During his push for stimulus bill support, President Obama said the following at a windmill plant in Ohio:

    If we don’t act now, because of the economic downturn, half of the wind projects difficult because of the capital intensive nature of these projects for them to move forward if they can’t get loans, if they can’t get access to credit.

    And think about that. Think about all the businesses that wouldn’t come to be, all the jobs that wouldn’t be created, all the clean energy that we wouldn’t produce. And think of what’s happening in countries like Spain, Germany and Japan, where they’re making real investments in renewable energy. They’re surging ahead of us, poised to take the lead in this new industry.

    This isn’t because they’re smarter than us, or work harder than us, or are more innovative than we are. It’s because their governments have harnessed their people’s hard work and ingenuity with bold investments — investments that are paying off in good, high-wage jobs — jobs they won’t lose to other countries.”

    But is Spain’s model really one we want to replicate? While it’s true Spain’s government has had one of the most aggressive green jobs policies in the world, it has come with significant cost. According to a new study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, for every “green job” created 2.2 jobs in other sectors have been destroyed. Furthermore, Spain’s government spent $758,471 to create each green job; Spain’s government used $36 billion in taxpayer money to invest in wind, solar, and mini-hydro from 2000-2008.

    To make matters worse, the many of the green jobs created were temporary:

    Despite its hyper-aggressive (expensive and extensive) “green jobs” policies it appears that Spain likely has created a surprisingly low number of jobs, two thirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one quarter in administrative positions, marketing and projects engineering, and just one out of ten jobs has been created at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity.”

    The full report, which includes 24 key points well worth reading, can be found here.

    One more thing. President Obama mentioned something about not losing jobs to other countries. Maybe he’s right about the temporary green jobs he’s creating, but we can’t forget about decisions businesses are forced to make when faced with higher input costs, says author and economist Gabriel Calzada:

    The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices. Microsoft and Google moved their servers up to the Canadian border because they benefited from cheaper energy there.”

    To sum it up: Government subsidies that distort the market and ultimately must be paid back by means of borrowing and/or higher taxes. More expensive energy. Net job losses.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Renewable Energy: The Road Less Traveled for a Reason

    1. ra,ohio says:

      I feel this administration is intent on destroying our economy.

    2. Poweredbyatp, MD says:

      I think you analysis is not 100% correct. The jobs disappear b/c of wax and wane of the govt funding, but if we enable the private sector to fill the void by giving them tax credits and other incentives, I do not see us making the Spanish mistakes.

    3. Evan Cowart, Boyd, T says:

      Green and PC are the wave of the future, they will bankrupt the future and drive the world into a sever depression with few jobs and extremely high cost for energy and just about everything else in the US and the world.

      obama is out to pretty much destroy the US and in turn the world with all his tax, energy and government control of all aspects of life.

    4. Theory1236, Illinois says:

      To Poweredbyatp,

      Did you read the article? If wind power was a viable solution it wouldn't require any subsidies.If our government gives tax credits and incentives than we would in essence be doing exactly the same thing as Spain did with the same results.

    5. Aaron, Indiana says:

      I believe in being responsible with our resources as long as we are also responsible for the consequences of our policies. We need to create more "instant gratification" to stimulate our economy. Investing in long term plans is a necessity but with so many people out of work it is not the reasonable approach. When there is no food in the house you don't go out and spend the last of your resources on installing geothermal energy in your home. Before spending anymore taxpayer dollars on bailouts Obama needs to follow through with his promises to cut back on government waste.

      Most government entitlement programs are a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. I have read that it costs three dollars for every dollar given in entitlements due to administration costs, inefficiency, and corruption. Of course this is the case with pretty much any organization that isn't structured on a local level. Many so called charities spend upwards of 50% of their donations on "administrative" costs. What that means is most of the money you donate goes to salaries and never reaches a person in need. If I buy a new tire for the widow next door it costs me the price of a tire. If I give that money to a charitable organization then one or two other people need to donate the same amount in order to buy the same tire.

      As individuals we need to take personal responsibility for the world around us. If we don't, the government will step in to "help" and you can guarantee it will cost us more in the long run. Of course that's only the obvious cost in dollars. The cost to our humanity is much higher. We forget how to be a community and lose track of what being a good neighbor means.

      I recently read a book by John Ringo titled "The Centurion". One of the points he makes is that the strength of the United States depends in part on the combining together of our diverse peoples. He points out that this is not the same as multiculturalism where many cultures exist side by side. It is instead a melting pot where people come together and combine their strengths into a whole that is greater than the sum of the individuals in it. As long as we keep ourselves separate from one another we will never realize the full potential of our great nation. Apart we will never be willing to make the sacrifices needed to keep this country great.

      John Ringo also discussed modern farming techniques. He compares "organic farming" to the standard practice of using pesticides and herbicides. I personally like to buy organic foods when I can afford them. However, if the numbers he states are true then we couldn't produce enough food to feed everyone using only "natural" methods. If farmers were forced to go "green" by our government then we would have famine or at the very least end up paying a whole lot more just to eat every day.

      If Obama has his way then we will be paying to subsidize many environmentally friendly programs with no concern as to what real benefit they might be. Perception is all that matters and that perception will be twisted by the liberal media. Here in Indiana we just had snow in April but all we hear about is global warming. How do you feel about paying for projects to stop global warming when you can't even afford to go to school for training to get out of a dead end job.

      I believe we all need to be held accountable for how we manage our environment but we need to use facts not agendas. Science is a wonderful thing. It's a shame that liberals don't want to use it.

    6. joelsk44039, North R says:

      The Spanish study references only wind, solar and small hydro "green energy" projects. Of these, only small hydro can be considered "base load." It would take many such small hydro projects to add signficantly to the capacity of the grid. Neither solar nor wind can provide reliable power service as of yet, due to their very nature. (The sun doesn't always shine and the wind may blow too hard or not at all.) In addition, in spite of steady decreases in costs, solar and wind systems remain up to 10 times more expensive than conventional power production (coal, natural gas and nuclear.

      Spain has made a calculated decision to support the two most expensive renewable power technologies and must now subsidize the high costs of their decision-making. This is a wonderful example of the law of unintended consequences and is the result of bureaucrats making decisions instead of relying on the marketplace.

    7. David, Oklahoma City says:

      Powerdbyatp needs to understand that "tax credits and other incentives" are government funding. When I got my extra thirteen bucks in my paycheck it's because they received it from me in my previous tax payment. They take my money in taxes and give it to somebody else as as a tax credit minus the fees to pay their salaries as government employees.

    8. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Wind energy ain't cheap, and it isn't made here either. When it is made here, it still will not relace the amount of workers displaced from the coal and oil, and natural gas industries. None of which are so called 'Fossil Fuels' but are made up of Calcium Carbonate and Iron Oxide, the two most common compounds in our Earth's crust. Always being made, never run out.

      There is no 'Global Warming' the hypothesis for that was totaly disprovan in 2005, and therefore, "Green Power" itself is a mis-nomer.

      Everything that is happening with our climate, our weather, is cyclic. It has happened befor and will happen again, and again, and again. So all the Doom's Day Witch Doctors should just put away their rattles and let life settle down and get back to normal. There is nothing to save us from!


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    10. Ross, Bradenton, F says:

      I beleive more in "divine intervention" and good old yankee ingenuity than I ever did in any government energy saving program. The Department of Energy is another useless bureauracy that has never generated a kilowatt of electricity or produced a barrel of oil. Economics will be the deciding factor on any alternative energy program's, not government intervention in the name of "green" or some other environmental extremist program.

      For consumers it is for cost effect to pay "research and development" cost incurred by the producers of 'anything' than taxes imposed for some multi-million dollar cost on wacky ideas of junk science. Prime example; the fraudalent biosphere in Arizona.

    11. Dennis, Idaho says:


      I agree with most of what you wrote except the part about Organic Farming. Big industry farming gives us food that is contaminated with chemicals. Our veggies, meat and white water that is called milk are all contaminated. The structure of our foods are altered by irradiation and pasturization which reduces the vitamin content and removes all the good bacteria that our bodies need. The vitamin fortified foods are using synthetic vitamins that our bodies cannot use properly.

      Organic foods get us back to the way we were designed. It is value added food. It may cost more but if you are sick less, is it not worth it. I am 63 and I haven't seen a Medical Doctor for anything since my last job physical exam in 1985. Our greed driven food industry and big Pharma are slowly poisoning the world. If we are to "Go Green" then let it be organic foods with cows that eat green grass give us healthy meat, raw milk, real cream, and yellow butter -NATURALLY.

    12. nate woo says:

      let me tell you about "renewable energy" 120 windmills were put up in

      2004,15 have been shut down for abnormal gear wear.The repair bill will be $350,000 per windmill.John Deer recived tax credits for financing

      this boondogle,another bill our grandchildren will be stuck with.When the temperature is extremly hot or cold the wind rarely blows,this is when power needs are the greatest.

      A local politician calls these things

      "freedom towers" I ask "freedom from what?"

    13. amills, TN says:

      I am concerned when I see comments about our food supply such as made by Dennis. Statements with no facts to back them up such as "are all contaminated" or " using synthetic vitamins that our bodies cannot use properly". Show me the science to back up your statements and not emotion generated statements. I have nothing against organic except that I choose to spend less for what I eat. I too am in my sixth decade and haven't had to visit the MD except for a job physical. For the record, I am not involved in "industry farming".

    14. Henry A Chabot says:

      Why dont we hear more about thermal energy?

    15. Conor, Cambridge says:

      There are two types of thermal energy. One is deep-earth heat such as the hot springs in Iceland where the temperature is high enough (i.e. 300 degrees F) to generate steam and, therefore electricity. This is considered by most to be a "green" energy source.

      The more common thermal energy, especially in the US, uses the ground temperature (around a constant 50-60 degrees F) as a heat sink. First you pump water through pipes burried in the earth and then run that water through a compressor in order to raise or lower that temperature to something usable (45 for cooling, 130 for heating). The pumps and compressors require electricity and are therefore not considered "green" by many.

    16. Bryan, Washington St says:


      I love the "Our greed driven food industry and big Pharma are slowly poisoning the world" statement. It is funny though that as we are being "poisoned" that our life span and quality of life keep increasing. We are living longer and are healthier for a longer portion of our life span than ever in recorded history. Give me some more of that poison.

    17. David Holt, Louisvil says:

      My main problem with this article is not considering the alternative. Are we to continue building our future assuming fossil fuels will be affordable and available indefinitely? Our reliance on foreign oil is already a large drain on our economy. I have serious doubts domestic reserves can satisfy our appetites.


      Dependence on petroleum imports continues and is worsening. Our continued dependence on foreign imports of petroleum products remains one of the largest contributors to our aggregate trade deficit. In 2001, petroleum imports totaled $93 billion for the year. By the end of 2007, the total deficit in petroleum products had climbed to a record-breaking figure of $296.8 billion, including a $34.8 billion deficit in December 2007 alone. The overall U.S. trade deficit grew by 95.3 percent overall from 2001 to 2007, while the deficit in petroleum products grew at a much faster rate of 219.1 percent over the same time period, presenting even more cause for concern.

    18. Dennis, Idaho says:

      amils and Bryan

      Food for thought… Try reading some of the facts on the 'Weston A Price Foundation' There are fewer 100 year olds per 10,000 today than there was in 1930.

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    20. Jim - Utah says:

      The longer we wait to drill here, drill now, the more it will cost us in the future, not counting how many times our president will have to bow to a major oil producing region! Come-on people, wake up! We have numerous ways to produce power, nuclear, oil, natural gas, wind towers that can work in all kinds of wind, solar panels that do not have to be the size of a football field. We have the technolgy now, use it and thumb our noses to the Europeans.

    21. David Holt, Louisvil says:

      Yes, to keep the pipelines flowing full

      we need opportunity to explore/develop

      oil fields already ours.

      This sounds like some obstruction towards that end.

      I want our voices to be heard!


      In February, Secretary Salazar extended the public comment period for the development of a new five-year energy plan by six additional months. When Salazar did that, however, he made it virtually impossible for citizens to voice their opinion in an easy, user-friendly way.

      In fact, even after repeated requests, he is refusing to provide a government email address to forward public comments to. Not exactly “unprecedented openness.”

      During the previous comment collection period, citizens could follow a simple two step process to email their thoughts directly to government officials making the decisions whether or not we should develop our offshore oil and gas reserves.

      Instead of this simplified process, citizens now have to undertake a difficult to follow, ten-step process on regulations.gov where they have to first input a 16-character docket ID (MMS-2008-OMM-0045) before they have the ability to submit their comment.

    22. Claude Cornell says:

      All the foolishness that is coming out of D.C. is downright laughable. They will say anything to get what they want. Obama's favorite sentence is " I need a bill on my desk ASAP." Of course the faster they ram it through Congress the less it can be debated. But we were dumb enough to put the White House and control of the Congress in the same party. Not real smart. But of course the bottom line is always…."more control."

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    24. Jim in Missouri says:

      To Dennis in Idaho;

      Here in the "Land of Milk and Honey" (United States of America), our food supply is the best and safest in the world and the safest it has ever been in the United States. He specifically mentioned milk. Milk is not contaminated by any additives. I am sure he is referring to bST (growth hormone) given to some high producing cows. This is not harmful to humans and can be tested in the milk. Test reveal no elevated levels or any different composition to the milk. The only other things done to milk are the addition of Vitamin D, the standardization of butter fat to reflect what is on the label, pasturization to kill pathogens (disease causing bacteria) and homogenization (suspension of the butter fat evenly throughout the product. Milk is the most regulated, tested and inspected product in the human food supply. While nothing is perfect, we should appreciate the farmers and food processors that work hard to make it the best they can, all of whom are struggling with higher production costs.

    25. Adam J says:

      I'm sure it's just a coincidence that an oil Company Repsol YPF

      just built the university both a Research Centre and it's Centre of Higher Energy Studies. Yup… coincidence…

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