Tax Breaks & Subsidies or Australia / New Zealand
But as headlines turn from green profits to big banking losses, questions are being raised about whether an economic slowdown will depress rapid growth in low-carbon business.
There was a nervy response to Shell's decision this month to pull out of the giant London Array wind farm, although the company insisted it was a business decision and not down to dwindling interest in renewable energy.
The risk that a recession will hold back environmental investment trends seems obvious, as consumers and companies look to save costs and become more risk-averse, especially since many corporate commitments are voluntary.
As they [the American Wind Energy Association] well know, "installed capacity" is meaningless, since the output of industrial wind turbines cannot be stored and cannot be predicted or regulated.
Their effective or useable capacity is near zero, while the effective capacity of coal, gas and nuclear plants is near 99%.
When the public figures this out, I doubt that "85% of Americans" will continue to support wind energy.
At the heart of the credit crunch now afflicting the global economy is the bursting of a great housing bubble throughout much of the developed world. Bubbles are, of course, as old as capitalism itself. Many of us in England recall learning at school of the great South Sea bubble of the early 18th century. But they seem to be coming more frequently nowadays. The housing bubble has burst only a decade or so after the Internet and tech-stock bubble. So we may not need to wait all that long to see the next one. And the most likely candidate is a green bubble, fueled by climate-change alarmism and government subsidies. ...There may well be a green business opportunity. But my advice to would-be investors is this: make sure you get out before the bubble bursts.
Watermelons - people who are "green on the outside and Red on the inside" - refuse to believe renewable-energy technologies may never be capable of replacing oil and natural gas, but it doesn't stop them from sowing their fantasy seeds. ...Even with massive subsidies, renewables can't come close to competing with oil and gas; without them, they'd be dead in the water. Though wind and solar have been on the "subsidy take" for decades, the Journal notes, they produce less than 1 percent of America's electricity; nuclear, meanwhile, generates 20 percent but is subsidized 15 times less.
Believing all renewables, let alone just wind, will produce 20 percent of America's power anytime soon requires a leap of faith only fools would attempt.
Olbeter says the House Ways and Means Committee will unveil today a tax package that would extend and expand renewable tax credits and reinstate the R&D tax credit. The bill would pay for itself by closing tax loopholes, "including one that allows fund managers to defer taxes on compensation earned from offshore funds and another that would allow multinational firms flexibility in allocating global interest expense."
Olberter contends that the bill "has virtually no chance, in its current form, of becoming law." He says the tax loophole closures "are a nonstarter with Senate Republicans and the White House, which opposes taxes generally and these measures specifically." ...this is likely the last meaningful attempt by the Congress to pass extension of renewable energy tax credits before November; he predicts that the solar and wind credits "will probably lapse on December 31."
Congress seems ready to spend billions on a new "Manhattan Project" for green energy, or at least the political class really, really likes talking about one. But maybe we should look at what our energy subsidy dollars are buying now. ...The wind and solar lobbies are currently moaning that they don't get their fair share of the subsidy pie. They also argue that subsidies per unit of energy are always higher at an early stage of development, before innovation makes large-scale production possible. But wind and solar have been on the subsidy take for years, and they still account for less than 1% of total net electricity generation.
Last month, a group of 25 environmental activists staged an impromptu demonstration outside the Sydney offices of yet another global organisation. But this time it wasn't a multinational mining or oil company that was the target, but the environment group WWF.
They were protesting against WWF's decision to partner with the coal industry, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the environment think tank the Climate Institute in working to accelerate the development of carbon capture and storage technology, otherwise known as clean coal.
This was just the latest exchange in the simmering brand war between Australia's two biggest green groups, WWF and Greenpeace, revealing the widening ideological divide between conservationists and activists of the founding denominations in the broad church of the environment movement.
New Zealand relies on agricultural production for its sustenance, and that has not changed in centuries.
And now as ever, there is friction where the edge of pastoral and agricultural production meets residential.
As the Marlborough vineyards grow, increasingly the use of wind machines to keep frost at bay is annoying residents.
Actually, it's angering them. They are hopping mad.
Only George Orwell could have invented - and named - the British Government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) that came into operation yesterday. It is the latest in a long line of measures intended to ease the conscience of the rich while keeping the poor miserable, in this case spectacularly so. ...The British Government has been persuaded by the wind turbine manufacturers to commit a third of its annual renewables subsidy to this uniquely inefficient energy source, advertising over hill and dale the cabinet's horror of making a decision on nuclear power. ...If all these fancy subsidies and market manipulations were withdrawn tomorrow and government action confined to energy-saving regulation, I am convinced the world would be a cheaper and a safer place, and the poor would not be threatened with starvation.
Just now, for reasons not all of which are "green", commodity prices are soaring. Leave them. Send food parcels to the starving, but let demand evoke supply and stop curbing trade. The marketplace is never perfect, but in this matter it could not be worse than government action. Playing these games has so far made a few people very rich at the cost of the taxpayer. Now the cost is in famine and starvation. This is no longer a game.
Worldwide opposition to wind power has now reached a crescendo and governments have been forced to respond with new planning regulations which impose the technology, often against huge objection.
Public distaste for wind turbines revolves around landscape impact and concerns about noise and loss of tranquillity, but technical objections are of greater concern. ...The power industry concedes that wind turbines would not be built without unprecedented consumer-sourced subsidy or massive tax breaks.
It is time for the threat posed by intermittent renewables, not least in requiring CO2-emitting coal-fired spinning reserve, to be investigated independently, without political interference.
In 1996, Denmark went on to hit industrial producers with a $15 per tonne carbon tax, initially neutralized by cuts in payroll taxes.
By 1998, manufacturers started shutting their doors due to high energy prices, and overall Danish carbon tax revenues started to fall along with manufacturing jobs.
At the same time, the cost of government programs rose significantly.
The government's solution incredibly was to - wait for it - subsidize electricity to select manufacturers and raise income taxes by lowering the income threshold on the country's top marginal rate.
By 2001, with economic growth hovering at one- seventh-of-one-percent, Danes making over CAD$50,000 paid 59 per cent of their income in taxes and had to cope with record electricity prices. The entire debacle led to a change of government that year, with the incoming government promising a tax freeze, followed by a tax reduction - including those taxes on energy.
The Bluewater Wind offshore wind farm proposal exploits the Delaware Renewable Portfolio Standard Act intended to foster the use of renewable energy sources. ...To qualify as an electricity supplier, BWW has to offer a supply that meets customer needs all the time, not just to the extent the wind blows. The BWW proposal drafts Delmarva as its supply partner, reducing supplier competition.
Further, Delmarva's SOS customers may lose the right to choose another supplier if the BWW take-or-pay wind and Delmarva backup power partnership proves expensive. They could be locked in for 25 years.
With a majority of St. Lucie County commissioners opposing Florida Power & Light Co.'s plans to put three giant wind turbines on conservation land at Blind Creek Park, that part of the nine-windmill project is dead. Three cheers.
The project does not belong on land the county and state paid to preserve. ...St. Lucie's rejection would leave intact the principle that land bought for conservation is meant to be preserved. If FPL proceeds with the project on its own land, it should return a portion of the grant. If FPL drops the whole project, the whole grant should go back to the state.
Any approach to determining economic policy for climate change should take into account the possibility that the current understanding of the atmosphere may not be translatable into reliable forecasts with a precision that allows the design of an economic response.
Further, any economic forecasts that are used to construct models of future carbon use and carbon dioxide emissions will be unable to deal with technical innovations. Their success cannot be predicted. This impacts on policy in two ways, first the obvious uncertainty in estimating economic development but more immediately the desire of governments to stimulate technical solutions. The need to be seen to be taking action frequently descends to picking winners and creating classes of rent seekers. ...As an example the present subsidies for wind farms are a response to demands for action from Green groups and green politicians. The result is a new rent seeking group. There is little cost benefit analysis to guide policy development. Rather policy is set to subsidise non-competitive technologies that may produce unquantified benefits. A simple comparison with the more conventional alternative of natural gas shows the use of gas to be more cost effective and useful as gas turbine generators produce electricity on demand.
General encouragement of innovation should be the limit of government policy. It is hard enough in business to develop innovations and well beyond the reach of general government.
These letters, and a host of others addressing the Cape Wind facility proposed for Nantucket Sound, were published in the Mar 6, 2008 edition of the Cape Cod Times. The Minerals Management Service, a division of the Department of Interior, has released the draft environmental impact statement of the proposed project. Other letters can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
"While renewable energy technologies can be more expensive than conventional sources in the first instance, the environmental, economic growth and public health benefits from their use justify the public investment," the Paterson report states flat-out.
I would argue that this statement should be viewed as a working hypothesis, and doesn't deserve yet to be considered a proven fact. How expensive is too expensive? Which conventional sources? Some are far more polluting than others, for example.
That quote from the report shows us the zeal of the alternative energies movement. With that zeal comes a touch of arrogance, because if you read through the Paterson report recommendations, there are thinly veiled justifications for running roughshod over local zoning and the opinions of those who actually have to live with solar panels, wind turbines or whatever. "The greater good" argument is just beneath the surface, and that makes me very nervous.
Let's confront an inconvenient truth. Wind turbines on Hutchinson Island will not work. What makes this statement more shocking is that Florida Power & Light is well aware of this.
Then what could motivate them to proceed with a major project that will destroy the natural habitat, kill a multitude of birds, disrupt the environment, do damage to the infrastructure, and go against the wishes of the residents of Hutchinson Island?
The answer is quite simple.
Money. ...I personally cannot think of this practice being anything less than economic terrorism.
This one is about corporate tax avoidance through massive tax subsidies lobbied for by Enron, which was the largest wind developer in the United States before its demise and which pioneered the tax shelter as a commodity. FPL Group paid zero federal income tax in 2002 and 2003 despite more than $2 billion in profits, largely because of the wind projects of its wind subsidiary, FPL Energy, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
But, now it has gotten so bold that it is proposing putting wind turbines where we don't have sufficient winds to get close to the 30 mph required to reach the turbines' rated capacity.
Destroying environmentally sensitive lands on Hutchinson Island and the quality of life for people in a populated area for an industrial wind plant is like burning down rain forest to build a solar farm.
It is six years since I first referred here to "the great wind scam" - the bonanza enjoyed by the developers of wind turbines, thanks to the hidden subsidy we all give them through our electricity bills. Under the Government's Renewables Obligation, they receive twice as much for such electricity as they produce as the owners of conventional power stations: a 100 per cent top-up which makes our wind energy the most heavily subsidised commodity in history.
No matter how many billions you spend on a wind farm, no matter how much landscape you sacrifice in the name of this particular renewable energy source, you have to build something else to cut in when it cuts out - and it has to be constantly at the ready to go. Not switched off, but warmed up and spinning - consuming, in other words, fuelled by something else more dependable.
Don't be fooled by the "dry year" threat, either: we're in a La Nina summer now, and there's no evidence yet presented to indicate that a dry year is a windy year, as the Meridian theory requires: the theory is that in a dry year for southern lakes, the wind turbines will allow the dams to be rested and water to be stored for later use. ...So, in essence, wind farms cost you double, at least: the $2 billion for Hayes, (though it's odds on it'll be more) will be necessarily followed by a blank cheque for whatever dependable base-load generation is going to back it up, unspecified hundreds of millions for Transpower's necessary upgrade of the grid, and God knows how much for the replacement Cook Strait cable. This is what happens when the south is plundered to power the north, as it has been for decades.