• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Solar Swindle

    The New York Times has a front-page story today on China outrunning the U.S. in producing solar panels. The high profile is due to the Obama Administration trying to spin what is nothing more than a race to see which country will waste more money.

    Solar power is a wonderful idea. It’s renewable, it’s clean, and parts of the U.S. are very rich in solar resources. Unfortunately, for right now it costs far too much money to generate — far more than nuclear, coal, oil, gas, or almost any other source.

    It costs too much here, it costs too much in China, and it costs too much in Europe. The extra cost can only be made up by taxes or charging more for electricity (which is essentially a tax, one that hurts poorer people more). That’s why the Administration has stopped talking so much about how ‘green’ energy will help the economy.

    Now the talk is of a green energy race, which we are in danger of losing to China unless we spend more taxpayer money. It certainly seems like a mistake to lose a race to the PRC, but not this one. This race is about who can most heavily subsidize an industry that can’t survive on its own. We are never going to win a subsidies battle with the PRC, and we should never want to.

    Consider Germany. Because it’s not viable yet, solar generates less than 1% of the PRC’s own energy. China’s surge in manufacturing solar panels is actually due mostly to shipping them to Germany, after the German government subsidized the solar industry. In other words, German taxpayers paid the price for solar to be used and the companies that profited were Chinese.

    Nearly all Chinese solar panel production is for export and nearly all the exports are made possible only because taxpayers in other countries pay for subsidies. When subsidies were cut, German taxpayers got richer and Chinese companies got poorer. Yet the Obama administration wants to repeat the German mistake and subsidize solar – in the name of beating the Chinese!

    This is a race into a thicket of thorns. You win by realizing it’s a bad idea to join in.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    39 Responses to Solar Swindle

    1. Susan, Missouri says:

      Sustainable energy, such as solar, wind, and even hydro are viable, on a personal level primarily. Many use solar and wind power effectively in homes today. In order for those to work on a national level, however, we must stop thinking of paying for them in terms of taxpayers footing the bill but rather in not taxing the companies who implement and utilize the technologies. We must get away from the mentality to tax everything that moves just because we see monetary value in it. We will make solar and wind energy viable and affordable and make American manufacturers of the technology more competitive by NOT taxing them out of competitiveness. The American people will ultimately benefit: increased jobs, stronger and more productive American companies making domestic and export products in these areas, and eventually driving the cost of the technology down for more widespread use and lowering the cost of power overall.

      Every emerging technology, even nuclear, is expensive at the first. It is only once a technology (look at computers) has been widely used that the cost of manufacturing, distributing, and deploying that technology starts to come down. Hydropower is still the cleanest and most environmentally safe source for power generation, and with the right recovery technology coal-fired plants, and generators operating on biofuels can be viable alternatives.

      We can integrate solar power and integrate energy conservation processes into our existing infrastructure and provide zero-tax incentives for new construction to implement solar and/or wind energy to provide for the bulk of their production and use needs, thereby making future industries and structures less dependent on the existing power grid.

      Nuclear power is not the way to go and we should not consider it for the greatest of all reasons, its byproduct, which is environmentally unsound and toxic to life. It is a technology, which has the potential for catastrophic effects in the event of malfunction or sabotage. Look at Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island, and other nuclear disasters around the world over previous decades. Its byproducts must be disposed of and they have a generational half-life. In the event of a leak or meltdown nuclear facilities have the potential for contaminating air, water, and soil, the three fundamental things humans need to exist. Let's not even consider it an option.

      We don't have to spend more money to make sustainable green energy more viable. We make them viable, affordable, and implementable by implementing zero-tax policies for those who develop and implement them. We aren't going to miss money we never had to begin with. We will benefit if we open the floodgates, so to speak.

    2. Roger S., Ma. says:

      Let's "Zero-Tax" other energy producers, and then let's have the race. Care to bet on the outcome? Here's another fact: Solar power is contingent upon sunlight. At least in the visible and near-visible parts of the spectrum (where current electric solar-panel technology) would harvest it, that's 4000Watts/square meter (about 10sqft) maximum, and that's no clouds, high noon, on the equator. Forget that even 50% conversion efficiency is nowhere near, at present, certainly not commercially. Anywhere, anything, else is less. Care to tell me how we are going to fuel a modern, even "post-industrial", economy on such slim pickings? Happy dreams, Susan!

    3. Deborah Fetkovich, N says:


      The oil industry was an emerging new technology about 150 years ago. Our primary means of transportation was the horse and kerosene was used for gas lighting. It was an enterprising New York lawyer named George Bissell who hatched a plan to produce the oil which seeped naturally out of the ground in some areas by drilling and put it to commercial use. He hired a chemist to analyze the properties for which this product could be used and promoted his ideas to wealthy individuals.

      After gaining enough financial backing to begin he formed his company — The Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. Drilling techniques had long been used for water, and western PA drillers had encountered oil instead of water. Not knowing what to do with the stuff, they abandoned the oil and drilled for water wells elsewhere. Bissell thought he could use this "waste stuff" commercially and make big profits.

      The effort was joined by a Colonel Drake and it was slow and tough going with most of the investors backing out – a few going completely broke – before oil was finally struck. Up until the Texas oil boom of 1901, PA produced more than 1/2 the *world's* oil supply. In the next two decades the horse was replaced with the combustion engine and Henry Ford invented the assembly line production method to make motor vehicles accessible to the masses.

      The reason I go into this history is because there's one element missing in the history of the oil industry and that's the government. These pioneers received no tax credits or rebates. They had no grant money. They spent their own money and assumed all the risks of failure and financial ruin without a government safety net.

      If an energy source is going to succeed and benefit the consumers, it's got to be profitable absent government subsidy. Every year since 1979 – when Carter put us through the oil embargo – Congress has spent hundreds of millions subsidizing so-called renewable or green technologies. Without these rebates, tax credits, and outright cash grants, when you looked in your yellow pages you wouldn't find a single company selling solar energy products.

      Absent government, i.e taxpayer money, the cost of installing solar panels on a 2,000 sq ft home to replace oil heat and hot water would be so exhorbitant, it would take an average of 40 years before the break-even point was reached.

      Mr. Obama appears to be believe in the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention. His policy of Cap & Trade is designed to inflict so much misery on Americans that he appears to believe that some people will be compelled to produce an efficient alternate to fossil fuels.

      But this reasoning defies common sense and is willfully blind to historic and current events. Has mass starvation in Ethiopia compelled its people to invent a solution? How about Egypt which relies on $2.1 mil annually from the US to prevent mass starvation?

    4. Roger D Henderson Nv says:

      June 26, 2009 the congress by 7 votes passed the Cap and Trade Bill.

      July 14, 2009 congress released its newest version of their Health Care Bill.

      And tried to get it passed before their August break.

      The Cap and Trade Bill is over 1000 pages long. The Health Care Bill is over 1000 pages long.

      Who told them what to write?

      Who wrote them?

      Who proof read them?

      When did they write them. This year? Last year? Before we voted last November?

      Why are both of them in the system at the same time.

      Each of our congressmen and senators would have to have read over 2000 pages to get even a little understanding of what they are voting for.

      Something is very very wrong with all this.

    5. Michael, Boulder CO says:

      To: Susan from Missouri

      RE: Nuclear Power

      Here is some breaking news: "Nuclear power is not the way to go and we should not consider it….Let’s not even consider it an option" is not a valid debating point.

    6. Jeff, Rehoboth says:

      What we should be subsidizing is true scientific research, and not production.

      Technology has always rescued us from our woes.

      The efficiency of a solar panel, (i.e. the energy output of a solar panel divided by the the energy from the sun that hits it) is only about 40%.

      Solar is getting close to being cost effective. Cost effectivity is determined by the cost of procurement plus installation versus the energy savings over the life of the purchase. (So even when solar 'breaks even' there's still not a huge financial motivation to switch over). Dramatically improve the efficiency or the life of such systems and it's the recipe for a big win.

      With targeted scientific investment in materials technology, battery technology, and perhaps others, this technology may help us reduce our consumption of foreign oil.

      The answer to long term economic sustainability is technological superiority. If you think about it, it always has been.

      With all the money we're throwing away on total crap, conservatives ought to recognize the truth of this statement, and rally the 'greenies' on the left to support a NASA-like targeted technological investment. Many of us don't realize the positive impact to quality of life that can be attributed to technology originally developed for space and military programs.

      Don't get me wrong. I agree with the premise of the article. Subsidizing production is a terrible idea. Cap and trade: Terrible for the economy, meaningless for the environment. Global Warming: I'm skeptical of it based on the evidence of the last 10 years. Dependence on foreign oil: IMO, there's a cause worth aiming a firehose of money at…gotta do it smartly though…

      When we put our best and brightest minds on it, we can perform technological miracles: A man on the moon; The Manhattan Project; Lockheed's Skunk works … I'm not sure any accountant would wave a spread sheet and rail on about the cost effectivity, but with a solid win in this sector, we will have invested in a foundation for our economic future.

      Technology seems non-partisan right now. Let's own it as conservatives.

    7. Paul Terry Stone says:

      I've never understood this business about solar power since we don't have sunlight at night.

    8. Tim AZ says:

      My wife and I live on solar. I can tell you this we just replaced sixteen batteries for a 2,000 watt system and it cost just over 2,000 dollars. These batteries on average last about seven years. I like having my own power company. But there is no way solar could be viable replacement for the grid. Where exactly would you put all the batteries necessary to meet the consumers needs through the night time or cloudy days when solar panels do nothing? And who's going to donate the land mass needed to dump these batteries when they're no longer usable? These batteries are not reconditionable. The cases go directly to the dump. The lead is however reclaimable but holds very little value about ten dollars a battery. We have two wind generators that together can produce 900 watts. And there is nothing reliable about the wind. The wind argument is null and void. How's that hope and change working out for you?

    9. Jeff, Rehoboth says:

      Good Question, Paul.

      That's why battery technology is so important. Rechargeable batteries can be used when the sun is not out.

      Also some people are just creating electricity and pumping it right back into the grid. "The grid is my battery". (You need special fixtures in your house to do this.) Since electric companies are required to buy back power generated by consumers, you are running your meter "backwards" during the day, and use normally at night. You might even get the electric company to pay you… Of course, with current yields and costs, you can't make a profit doing this.

      In the summer, where I work we get notices all the time of high electrical demand during the work day. On a large scale, this concept could help in certain communities.

    10. Ben West, Laurel, MS says:

      The easiest, fastest, safest, & most sensible way to ameliorate our "dependence" on foreign oil is to DRILL OUR OWN!!! Two commenters here mention foreign oil without referencing this obvious fact. Perhaps the left loons are succeeding with their propaganda efforts. I would hope we could all agree that the use of solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, tidal, &/or any & all other naturally occurring sources of energy is more desirable than the burning of any fuel, fossil or otherwise. However, government mandates &/or subsidies of any technology, company, or sector is completely undesirable & unconstitutional. Every person, family, or enterprise who can should absolutely, after weighing their options, pursue the implementation of alternative energy systems for their own use, if doing so is found to be in their best interest. The government should keep its collective nose out of it, &, in the meantime, should allow for aggressive utilization of domestic fossil fuel deposits in a true effort to decrease or eliminate dependence on foreign oil.

    11. StepIntoTheLight, Mi says:

      @ Susan

      Nuclear programs are utilized all over the world without incident. Your complaints about reactor accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, etc may have been valid in their own time, but technology has advanced and improved greatly over the past 30 years. Your arguments are flawed and sound more like ChicagObama talking points to limit discussion about the viability (and safety) of nuclear power in the United States — which is already producing nearly 20% of our electricity, compared to useless solar/wind/hybrid technologies which have not been able to lower costs for mass implementation and usefulness.

    12. Gary-looking for a s says:

      Nuclear doesn't work? How many ships and submarines have been traveling around the worlds oceans for how many years? If it can be done on a boat, I'am sure it is easier, not to mention SAFER on land. But, so what, it looks like mankind is about to undergo another period of cataclismic "change," all right. We are trading a system we know from experience that works, and allowing Marxism a system that kills all but the Ghouls to take it's place.

    13. Don, Kansas City MO says:

      Roger S of MA, I agree with your thesis, but your numbers make it too rosy. The actual solar power available at the earth's surface is only about 1,000 watts per square meter, not 4,000! Slim pickings indeed, roughly equivalent to one gallon of gas per day in energy terms. Or consider one nuclear power plant generating about 1,000 MegaWatt, or the crude equivalent of 2 million square meters of solar panels. That's an area roughly a mile on a side.

    14. Richard says:

      How does the cost of solar energy go down without further investment in research and development, as well as the further efforts at bringing increased efficiencies to manufacturing?

      You can't improve something that you don't bother doing.

      Where the Chinese will ultimately benefit is from developing the expertise to produce solar technology at ever lower costs. And this will give them a huge competitive and operational capability in markets all over the world.

      Of course, as per usual, the Heritage Foundation wants to continue its subsidizing of the oil industry and the subsidizing of the country's which export oil, among such greats as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela.

      Considering the billions spent every year by our federal government to subsidize the import of foreign oil, which only serves to empower hostile countries, it would make sense to shift some of that money to the development of locally grown energy. Indeed, right now the only reason oil is more cost effective than solar is because our federal government subsidizes its importation.

    15. william boyer says:

      I think that Tim from AZ makes a great deal of sense, especially his comments about the batteries. People fear lead so much in other areas yet the don't give a thought to the making of the batteries or their disposal. The mercury bulbs are another thing. Yes, they might be what the people who push them might claim; however, once again, the disposal of them is a problem. Can anyone imagine billions of them being dumped into landfills or just thrown out the back door as people do in some places. Eventually that mercury is going to go somewhere.

    16. william boyer says:

      People have tried to develop solar energy for many, many years. Look it up. It perhaps will work well in normally sunny places, or as Tim says, for individuals, but producing enough energy to power the country doesn't seem possible. Further, consider all of the many things that simply cannot be powered by solar energy. And could we get off the oil conspiracy theories, please? Oil is used in the manufacture of tens of thousands of products.

    17. william boyer says:

      Conservatives are just as interested in new technologies as liberals. There is always someone out there blaming the failure of solar and wind on conservatives. Do they honestly think that only liberals use cell phones, the internet, computers, etc.? Give me a break.

    18. Steve in Pittsburgh says:

      All the R&D money spent in the world will not increase the energy delivered at the Earth's surface per square meter. This is the fundamental issue with solar PV and thermal collection. Efficiencies can only be gained by manufacturing solar cells and or mirror systems on larger scales with lower cost materials and processes. An area the size of Nevada if covered would provide the Earth's population energy requirements until the year 2050. Lower cost materials and processes are needed to compete against solar, coal, oil, hydro, nat gas, wind and nuclear; all of which are alternative forms of solar energy..

    19. Pingback: » Financial News Update - 08/26/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

    20. RRR in Mpls says:

      Solar, wind and hydro are extremely viable IF, there is a storage medium that is adequate to handle the off peak periods. That technology is being developed at two levels. One is for the energy generators (utilities) and the other is for commercial and residential. When the patents are perfected and the testing is done, it will make these extremely viable.

      Nuclear energy has a new clean process that will virtually eliminate spent fuel rods. If the wackos that go into anaphalaptic shock at the mention of nuclear fuel, would back off and do their homework, we could handle all of our interim power needs, without coal or diesel, until battery, solar and wind catch up.

    21. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      If something costs more than it produces, then it does not work. Any child, farmer, banker, Mom, Dad, store owner, repairman, anyone but Government, unions and "GREEN PEOPLE" understand this simple philosophy. If a chicken looks pretty and costs more to feed than the eggs it produces, you wring its neck! Hydroelectric Dams virtually costs us nothing, as they have existed for a very long time, and provide water for agriculture, yet our Government wants them all removed so that the little fishes can swim naturally! All the wind generators and solar panels cannot replace the lost energy of Hydroelectric as a study source of power. Plus they haven't even considered what the impact of all those years of sediment behind those dams are going to do to the Eco-life down stream! Including all the Cities that rely on the rivers for water! That is how far ahead our elected official think!


    22. Jeff Jones says:

      Let's take this to heed. How about no renewable energy, no biofuel, no solar, no wind. Ethanol just help the corn farmers and the fertilizer companies make lots of money (check the stock price of Potash and Mosaic when corn was $6/bushel). Let's burn coal for electricity. It is by far the most economical. Who cares about the terrible pollution it produces? it will lower your electricity bill. While we are at it why don't we put it in your back yard and call it distributed generation. Or let's do nuclear. It only cost $10B to build and $100B for containment of the nuclear waste that will be radioactive for 1000 years plus. And let's use up all the oil and natural gas. Forget about the $150/barrel oil. Let's use it up and see it goes to 1000! it will last another 50 years before we deplete the global supplies that took million years to accumulate.. let's leave nothing to our grandsons or grand daughters. And climate change… let's act after New York City is immersed in water like in the movies…

      By the way, what solar company has the largest market cap in the world? You would be surprised, it's not Chinese, but a U.S. company based in Arizona with manufacturing in Ohio called First Solar with $11B of market cap… and guess what, Germany is their largest market too

    23. Roger S., Ma. says:

      Don, Kansas: You're right, of course. To make my point, I was stating the BEST case for solar: High noon, No Clouds, Equator, Anything, Anywhere else, is less! (Didn't find it necessary to say how much less!) 1000W average over the total surface is all that's available. Better get used to solar being no solution to anything other than individual, local, small scale endeavors for the foreseeable future, not even at eta=1!

    24. John Rosky Andover, says:

      Why can't Obama give the $2billion that he wants to LOAN Brazil to this country to build a new refinery in the U.S. Look at the number of jobs that will create here. According to the crude oil imports as of May 2009 we import 2.2 million BPD from Canada,1.08 million BPD from Mexico and the stupid onE is 1.2 million BPD from Venezuela ( Obama's friend ).

    25. Pingback: Activated Carbon Odor Combatant | Solar Power in Arkansas

    26. Pingback: Theme: Energy Reduction » Conservation Efforts

    27. Derek Scissors, Ph.D. Derek, Heritage says:

      Jeff Jones:

      I realize you are responding to multiple people but a few remarks:

      I agree that the true cost of energy can be quite different than the market price. If coal production hurts public health, policy-makers should weigh that.

      Your nuclear and oil examples don't work as well for me — if the price of oil goes up or the price of nuclear storage is high, that will make solar and other renewables more competitive. When they're competitive, great. They're not now, so let's follow the suggestions to concentrate on research to make them more competitive.

      By the way, I applaud First Solar. The German government wanted to tax its own people to make First Solar and others more profitable and they took advantage the way a company should. That has no bearing on whether we should do the same thing.

      Subsidies are transfers of wealth from taxpayers to companies. You'd think people would have had quite enough of that by now. Possible transfers of wealth from American taxpayers to Chinese companies are that much more unpleasant.

      Derek Scissors

    28. Tim AZ says:

      Actually the 2 billion dollars went to Goerge Soros whom is developing these oil wells in Brazil. There are some people posting here who have watched way too much scare fantasies concocted in hollywood to advance their socialist agenda. Even if these catastrophes were to occur you have no power over the event. You are just a grain of sand at the mercy of the waves. You would do well to find security beyond the flesh rather than allow liberals to make you a slave through contrived fear.

    29. Pingback: Real Environmental Change is So Needed in Our Thinking, Mindset, Attitudes, and Concern For Others! | Maine Solar Installation

    30. Pingback: Benefits For Municipal Waste Management with Plasma Gasification | Green Solutions for You!

    31. Pingback: Christians and Earth Day | Solar Power in New Mexico

    32. JoAnne, Arizona says:

      I live in the Arizona desert. There have been tax credits for solar hot water heaters since the Carter oil embargo. The cost/benefit ratio on those things is so bad that despite the housing boom in this state for decades, there are hardly any solar hot water heaters. Its a joke!

      For $75 you can convert your car (any kind of gasoline engine, its the carburetor that needs the converter) to run on methane, safely and efficiently produced from livestock manure very cheaply. Your car will run better. You will reduce greenhouse gasses and all toxic emissions more than ethanol, which is expensive to produce and takes energy to produce, and is made from food for humans and animals. But the 2008 Farm Bill, and the 2009 Energy Bill, and the 2009 Economic Recovery Act (Stimulus) contained billions in tax subsidies for ethanol. The U.S.A. has outproduced Brazil (been the #1 EXPORTER) of ethanol since 2005. The cost run-up on all grains worldwide caused by doing this to the American "breadbasket to the world" has been devastating. The nearly 100% taxpayer subsidized ethanol industry is paying shareholder profits, then the companies proceed to declare bankruptcy. 50% of them did so this last year. The same crooks just form new companies.

      I think a some smart enterprising veteran who is a federal IRS contractor with access to all our addresses should just buy wholesale enough methane converters to get the bulk buy price down to $20 for every car in America and mail them to every taxpayer with a coupon for installation at any auto repair shop worth $200, and send the installation steps to every auto repair shop (they have the business addresses.) The contractor would be reimbursed on the "honor system" via a Lockbox account by all the grateful Americans who saved $275 in gas over a year.

      He would also be honored by the methane producers who would be busily cleaning up all our livestock waste for our dairy and hog and chicken farmers and our cattle feedlots. They would send him some percentage of their income they felt was fair for creating the market.

      The government loss of gasoline taxes and oil corporation taxes (all paid on ethanol) would be staggering. These losses would be recouped by discontinuing government subsidies to corn ethanol first, then wind, then solar. Wind and solar can putter right along as cottage industries and in Bill Gates type garages until they can come up with something big enough. Oil companies can keep researching algae ethanol and hydrogen and producing propane, natural gas, and the oil needed for large electrical plants that can't use hydro-electric or nuclear sources. So they will still pay some taxes,just not from the jugular for the government as they have been.

      But the people and the animals and the planet would be happy, healthy, and wealthy and the environmental nazis ruining our economy and jeopardizing millions of Third World dependents wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

      We would have the judge commute his sentence for personal use of the federal database (okay, and reduce David Axelrod's out of generosity) and then we would create a prize in his name similar to the Nobel to honor all innovators who cut through the fog of such connundrums as "the Energy/Environment Crisis" with solutions as simple as paperclips or sticky notes.

      The really sad thing about all this environmental justice and redistribution and health care for all stuff is that a bankrupt economy and an utterly demoralized de-incentivized workforce will not produce its way out of the "revolution" on the other side. Yup, the government will take care of you from cradle to grave, but guess what? As a poorer, more controlled victim than you were before the revolution when SOME people actually created stuff of value. Let's see: reparations will make up for slavery by making everybody slaves, not of a possibly kind master you know, but of an anonymous bureaucratic government machine you don't know, and everybody equally poor. That sure would make us all feel better, wouldn't it? If everyone in America was just as poor as the poorest in Kenya, that would sure set things right!! Hopey change, hopey change, hopey change.

    33. Susan, Missouri says:

      To Deborah, New York, thanks for the history lesson, I'm well aware of the history of the oil and gas industry, but you seem to have misread or missed my point completely. I'm not advocating for subsidizing American manufacturers of green-energy technology. I'm advocating that the government, federal, state, and local get out the way of private American industry and stop inhibiting them with threats of taxation that would prevent them from being competitive and taking the technology to the next level.

      To StepintoTheLight, Michigan Nuclear technology may have improved but that doesn't make it flawless, nor does it prevent it from being subject to human error, mechanical failure, or deliberate sabotage. I notice you didn't offer any viable suggestions on what to do with the byproduct. Is it magically going to evaporate?

      Jeff Jones, natural fuel sources are viable and if you go back and read my first comments, there's a qualifier there, "recovery systems" or scrubbers to reduce or eliminate the bulk of the emissions. Also, keeping an eye to eventually phasing them out in lieu of wind, solar, and hydro as those technologies continue to develop.

      Many seem to think I'm for putting the entire population ON some kind of community solar/wind grid to provide for everyone. I'm not. I'm saying that the sun, wind, and even water naturally are inexhaustible sources of energy production. We need to supplement the grid with these power sources but we need to move to homes and business structures that are nearly, if not completely, independent of a national power grid. A national grid then would become a backup, not a primary source of all power. We have to get out of the "all or nothing" mentality and find balanced solutions with an eye toward transitioning over the longer term. The question is, can we make the personal sacrifices, i.e. in potentially limited use of our electronic conveniences for a sufficient amount of time to let these technologies develop and be proven?

      Battery technology certainly needs to develop and there are disposal and recycling issues to be addressed with those as well. I'm hopeful that our sceintists can, as they have done in the past, find a solution to storing the energy collected from wind and solar in some other way than batteries. The answer is there somewhere. Can we find it?

      There are more people everyday making it their personal responsibility to get off the grid. They're making sacrifices necessary to make that a reality. I commend them and trust that their successes will make it more attractive and feasible for others to do the same in the future. A nation not entirely dependent on a single power grid, or a network of grids, is more secure as well. Sort of that "not putting all your eggs in one basket," principle at work. It would be far easier for an enemy to subvert one grid or a network of grids powering millions of homes than it would be to subvert 280 million homes with individual power sources.

    34. Tim AZ says:

      A simple electro magnetic pulse would wreck the power grid as well as homes who supply their own power. EMP is old technology that has become more effective as technology has advanced. There is no arguement to suggest that individual power sources would be immune to terrorist attacks. They all share the same weaknesses.

    35. Deborah Fetkovich, N says:

      To Richard, who wrote, "Of course, as per usual, the Heritage Foundation wants to continue its subsidizing of the oil industry and the subsidizing of the country’s which export oil, among such greats as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Venezuela.

      Mark Levin, in his latest book, "Liberty and Tyranny" devotes an entire chapter called "On the Free Market" where the issue of oil profits is discussed. I can answer you best by quoting Mark:

      "And what of those oil industry profits? Much reporting on oil company revenues with headlines shouting "oil companies made record profits" is sophomoric and misleading. Rather than serving as watchdogs of the government, too many in the media give voice to the most demagogic statists. In 2007, the oil companies earned between eight and nine cents for every dollar of gasoline sales.

      Investors Business Daily summed up the situation this way, "From 1977 to 2004, according to Tax Foundation Data, oil companies cleared $630 billion after taxes while paying $518 billion in federal and state corporate taxes at an average rate of 45%. Over the same period, an additional 1.34 trillion in excise fuel taxes was collected from consumers by the oil companies and turned over to various governments."

      Government, not the oil industry, is the biggest "profiteer" from oil. And it uses the tax revenue to expand its own authority over the expense of the indivividual, as it does with a number of other industries.

      Ethanol has been around since the 1800s. If it were a viable alternative or additive to gasoline, which supposedly would reduce oil use, gas prices, and auto emissions, the free market would have responded positively. For years, large agricultural corporations and environmental groups have lobbied to promote ethanol production and use. Having already severely damaged the supply of domestic oil, the statist responded to the lobbying efforts by using tax dollars to heavily subsidize ethanol production, imposing tariffs on the importation of ethanol, forcing the auto industry to build more ethanol-friendly vehicles, and setting mandates on domestic ethanol production and use levels — 15% of American cars are to run on ethanol by 2017.

      As ethanol and other biofuels require corn, sugarcane, and additional crops to produce blends of gasoline, these essential crops are diverted from food production to energy production. As demand for corn and sugarcane increases, more farmers around the world respond by converting their fields from rice, wheat, and soy, to the more profitable crops used in biofuels. Government policy played a significant role in driving up demand and prices not only for fuel, but food, contributing mightily to severe food shortages and even famine in the Third World.

      As demand for corn increased in the US, and since corn is fed to most livestock, the price of beef, fowl, and dairy products went up as well. A ripple effect occurs across the economic and global landscape.

      And what of the supposed environmental benefits of ethanol? The AP reported: " Ethanol is much less efficient than gas especially when it is made from corn. Just growing corn requires expending energy – plowing, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting all require machinery that burns fossil fuel. Modern agriculture requires large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, both produced by methods that consume fossil fuels. Then there's the cost of transporting the corn to an ethanol plant where the fermentation and distillation consume yet more fossil fuels. And finally, the cost of transporting this fuel to filling stations. Because ethanol is more corrosive than gasoline, it can't be pumped through relatively efficiently pipelines, but must be transported by rail or tanker truck. In the end, even the most generous analysts estimate that it takes the energy equivalent of 3 gallons of gasoline to make 4 gallons of the stuff…..

    36. Rubicon says:

      For me, one thing is certain. I do NOT want to subsidize 'solar farms.' All they are, are utility companies (new or old) who generate electricity & send it to consumers. They take up significant land area, they require glycol colling of the systems (glycol is a pollutant), & they require massive investments subsidized by taxpayers to install new electrical distribution grids.

      Push for solar subsidies on each HOME or business. Let consumers have the sun generated free electricity, free for themselves & not for utility companies we've had to taxpayer subsidize so they could make even more profits. Subsidize citizens, not companies first on this particular issue. That would reduce energy costs to average consumers & help them have money in their pockets & not be putting money in the pockets of fat cats, which was subsidized by consumers or taxpayers in the first place!

    37. Dr. Dan Ulseth, Sacr says:

      To Susan of MO: You will agree, I'm sure, that all energy sources require raw materials in order to produce useful and usable energy – primarily electricity. Wind turbines aren't made of hemp, nor are solar panels. So the question is: Which source of energy provides the greatest multiplier effect from raw material to electricity? Answer: Nuclear.

      Efficient: Nuclear power is millions of times more dense and efficient than any other form of energy. It revolves around the splitting of neutrons instead of burning electrons in a chemical reaction. That is why only 104 reactors can produce 20% of our near-zero emission electricity each year.

      Reliable: Not dependent on wind, sunshine, tides or any other outside, variable condition. Available whenever you flick the switch, day or night, on-demand

      Safety: With any complex industrial entity, there is a risk of accident and death. At Three Mile Island, no one died, no demonstrable increase in radiation leakage was detected, no increase in illness caused by the partial-meltdown of the containment vessel occurred. The accident was used to improve safety measures for future reactors – as is prudent of any industry to learn from its mistakes. Chernobyl was a lousy, Russian design with no containment vessel. Approximately 50 workers died as a result of the fire.

      Comparatively, nuclear power plants are among the safest industrial environments in which to work. The NRC has more rigorous standards to which no other power-generating system is subject.

      Cost: All costs – from construction, fuel usage for 60 years, infrastructure, spent fuel storage and decommissioning are all included in the original estimate of building. Coal-burning power plants do not include their "external costs" – air pollution, particulate-causing illnesses – in their overall costs.

      Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF): Has been safely stored for 40 years on-site. No reason to believe that can't continue until Gen IV or Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR) or IFRs become available. Then just burn the SNF down to 1% of its current volume and store the remainder – safely.

      Proliferation: No nuclear power plant has been attacked in the past 30 years by terrorists or other ne'r-do-wells. There's lower hanging fruit elsewhere.

      Land-use footprint: Go to http://www.cleanenergyinsight.org to see the map of comparative land-use (10 Aug 2009 post). Hold onto your hat!

      Technology: For solar, unfortunately, Moore's Law does not apply here for conversion of photons into electrons via semiconductor chips.

      Is there a place for wind and solar? Yes, as Tim from AZ points out – but it is limited due to the inherent diffuse nature and unreliability of the source. It is "Boutique" power.

    38. Dave Chelsea, MI says:

      If only Green Peace had aligned Nuclear Energy with Nuclear Medicine, as opposed to aligning it with Nuclear Weapons…..Even though something is often-repeated doesn’t mean that it becomes true. Nuclear Energy is NOT bad….If you add together all the people that have died from Nuclear Energy since its been deployed and include the 56 that died during the Chernobyl event, 56 people have died from Nuclear Energy – in fact, medical studies show that the working population at Nuclear Energy Plants seem to have better overall health then the general population — Perhaps supporting a little “rad” will do you good… It is the height of hypocrisy to suggest plugging in an electric car to the coal-fired electrical grid is better for the environment – oh yeah —- hydrogen is generated from coal fired electricity too —– Geez, these inconvenient truths add up in a hurry.

    39. Pingback: Solar Subsidies Fail to Create Green Jobs, Again | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.