Your One-Stop Solyndra News Spot

There has been a great deal of good journalism about the Solyndra mess. Here are a number of blogs, stories and interviews that offer some good insight into the problems with Solyndra’s business model, the decision to put the taxpayers on the hook for its failure and the implications of that failure.

Sadly, as the Wall Street Journal reports today, the Obama Administration seems to have ignored the lessons of this event. They quote Energy Secretary Chu admonishing doubters, saying “If we want to be a player in the global clean energy race, we must continue to invest in innovative technologies that enable commercial-scale deployment of clean, renewable power like solar.”

Here are some nice stories addressing the Solyndra meltdown.

ABC News provides a nice background piece on the scandal – Solyndra: A Loan to Nowhere.

Megan McArdle has two good blogs on the issue. The first, How Did Solyndra Spend All That Money,  addresses Solyndra’s apparent business model and why they seemed to accelerate the spending even as they were running out of cash.

The second, Solyndra Was Just a Bad Bet From the Beginning, examines the many market challenges the company faced.

The Washington Post reports that not all companies producing solar panels were seduced by government money. It is a lesson in, as the Post puts it, “what can go wrong when a rigid government bureaucracy tries to play venture capitalist and jump-start a nascent, fast-changing market.”

The Daily Mail reports today that Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law has received an even larger loan guarantee than Solyndra. This project is a thermal solar project, where the heat of the sun is concentrated to generate energy, as opposed to photovoltaic solar which are the standard solar panels we usually think of when we hear the word “solar.” Interestingly, the Energy Information Administration says that thermal solar will be the most expensive form of energy at $312 per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2016. By way of comparison, solar PV will be $211 per MWh and wind will be $97 per MWh. Put simply, the federal government is putting the taxpayers on the hook for a technology the EIA predicts will be the least competitive energy source.

Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Tradition Institute also has a nice, and clear, radio interview about the larger issue.

There are many others doing good work on the issue. If you have additional suggestions, please post them in the comments.

Comments (4)

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  1. A. Raya says:

    The subsidy stinks. It’s so obviously a payoff to special interest groups, especially those prone to open their wallets for campaign contributions. BOth parties do this, but this one and ethanol are especially egregious and, well, oily and greasy, to keep things in the context of energy.

  2. H. Sterling Burnett says:

    The Solyndra case is bad for so many reasons. The shear waste tax dollars is appalling. With the revelations of big payoffs by key players to the Obama administration and that fact that Energy Secretary Steven Chu continued to support and push through the loan even after the numerous agencies and analysts including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said is was risky. Indeed, even after Solyndra defaulted on its debt last December, Chu approved the restructuring loan. Was the Administration’s foolish decision to continue supporting this financial black hole a result of corruption and sheer greed, or was it rather a result of blind devotion to green ideology? And which is worse. If it was simply a venal grab for political donations, now that the company is gone and the light of public exposure has been shed upon it, we could at least hope for an end to public funding of such green energy boondoggles. On the other hand, if this is a result of abiding faith in the green religion — if, indeed, the administration has drank the pine colored cool aid — then we could expect the adminstration to doggedly (if stupidly) persist in funding doomed to fail solar efforts despite the evidence that they are and will be for the foreseeable future financially unsound, even with taxpayer support.

    Frighteningly, the latter seems more likely to be the case. Various news outlets over the past few days report that, even in this time of reported fiscal austerity, when the government is supposedly tightening its belt and reducing discretionary spending, the Obama administration seems intent on continuing to loan billions of dollar re solar projects, both solar power arrays and solar manufacturing facilities that absent these huge infusions of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t pass the smell test an a bank or private investment house.

    When will this madness end? Early 2013 perhaps?

  3. Paul D Perry says:

    I want my half a billion back.

  4. Brian says:

    [i]”Was the Administration’s foolish decision to continue supporting this financial black hole a result of corruption and sheer greed, or was it rather a result of blind devotion to green ideology?”[/i]

    I would say it’s about 30-70. The devotion to the green ideology from the Administration’s supporters is big enough to guarantee that Administration would support the venture as long as they possibly could.

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