Monthly Archives: October 2011

SunPower – the next Solyndra

Another Obama Green Loan Scheme bites the dust.

Another US solar power company – SunPower, known as the next Solyndra – and another Obama ‘Green Jobs’ fiasco.  SunPower manufactures solar panels, tiles, and even builds ranches. And just before the program expired last month – it got $1.2 billion in taxpayer guaranteed loans.

Solyndra lost US$.5 billion and only 158 jobs created so this fiasco is twice as devastating to the cash strapped American taxpayer.  Soon to be announced is Solyndra’s US$2.4 million legal bill.

Is this poor judgement by the Obama administration or endemic of the type of fraud and mismanagement these schemes attract?

The Gillard Government has shown how hopeless and incompetent it is when managing schemes like the NBN and the BER, so we can only hold our breathe and cross our fingers when it comes time to them allocating money from the carbon tax.

SunPower has gone belly up after a US$1.2 billion energy department loan.  And for just 15 jobs, or US$80 million taxpayer dollars per job.  The US Department of Energy said it would create 350 temporary construction jobs. And 15 permanent jobs

Gerri Willis on the Willis Report said:

$1.2 billion for 15 jobs. Let’s do the math again – since this Administration apparently doesn’t: That comes out to $80 million dollars per job! The company will also be opening up another plant that will surely bring in more jobs. So where is that plant going to be? Mexicali, Mexico!

Taxpayers are giving this company money to help boost the Mexican job market.

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And more ……

How did a failing California solar company, buffeted by short sellers and shareholder lawsuits, receive a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project—three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico, to build the panels for the project.

The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization.  If SunPower was a bank, the feds would shut it down.  Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain.

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The radio program explaining  the fraud and how SunPower’s guarantee was made hours prior to its collapse is here:

Mini Ice-Age or global warming: Why can’t they make their minds up?

Michael Hanlon writes in the Daily Mail Online about Britain’s mini ice age.  So what is it to be to be – global warming or global cooling?  The climate has always changed and it’s arrogance in the extreme to think man can change the climate.  One thing’s for sure, the climate change alarmists and scientists can’t be taken seriously when they don’t factor in solar, tides, moon cycles.  After all, if the climate didn’t change, they’d still be growing maize in Greenland, wouldn’t they?

‘Britain heading for Mini-Ice Age!’ has elbowed out ‘we are all going to fry!’ as the latest doom-laden prediction from the climate scientists.

After two chilly winters in northwest Europe researchers have pointed to changes in Solar Activity and the complexities of the grand currents that govern the weather systems over the Pacific and concluded that there may be links to the weather in our little archipelago, specifically that we should put in our orders for extra-strong antifreeze and winter tyres right now.

But, you will be saying, I thought the science of climate change was, as Ed Milliband said, ‘settled’?

Big Ben, London, veiled by snow: is Britain really heading for a mini ice-age?
Big Ben, London, veiled by snow: is Britain really heading for a mini ice-age?

The mathematics of it all is literally so complicated that no human can possibly hope to grasp what is going on, and the Met Office uses some of the most powerful computers ever made to do the sums.

That said, there are some truths which are simpler to grasp. First, weather vs climate. ‘Weather’ is what clothes you pick to wear today. ‘Climate’ is the contents of your wardrobe.

‘Climate change’ means a change in the latter not, necessarily, the former. Thus, in a warmer world it will still be possible to have freezing winters, even record-breaking freezing winters, although we should expect the frequency of such events to decline.

Similarly, there were heat waves even during the last ‘real’ mini ice-age in the 13th-18th Centuries, which of course saw summers, springs and autumns as well as those terrible winters when they had jolly frost fairs on the Thames.

At least, with a wholly stable Sun you can at least ignore it when it comes to change in climate.

But, as we have known for a long time (since the 18th Century actually) the Sun is not wholly stable. There are stars out there which literally change colour from one week to the next.

It was foolish for the environmentalists to pretend that climate change is simple and to start blaming individual weather events on it.
It was foolish for the environmentalists to pretend that climate change is simple and to start blaming individual weather events on it.

Our Sun is not that capricious. But it does seem to go through a series of cycles one of which is the 11-year variation between maximum and minimum activity on its surface, in terms of sunspots and solar flares.

Its overall output varies by a factor of about one part in a thousand, which does not sound like much but it is probably enough to cause quite noticeable changes here on Earth.

A few weeks ago we had a study showing that there may be links between this 11-year cycle and cosmic ray intensity and, in turn, cloud formation and temperatures. Now it seems there may be another effect.

This week, in the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists from the Met Office have demonstrated that changes in the intensity of Solar ultraviolet radiation have quite dramatic effects on the upper atmosphere which in turn can have equally dramatic effects on the ground.

Specifically, last year’s cold winter may – and everyone is stressing that may – have been caused at least in part by an unusually quiescent Sun.

Then there are those Pacific Ocean currents, El Nino and La Nina. The latter is particularly confusing as its effects seem to mask, at least in the short term, the overall warming trend, bringing unusually chill air to the eastern seaboard of North America and to northwest Europe. Just what causes El Nino and La Nina is not fully understood.

So what does this mean for global warming and mini-ice ages? As I said, it is complicated. If we are heading for a really unusually low period of solar activity – a Grand Solar Minimum – then we can expect this to mask, at least in our part of the world, the effects of the general warming trend.

Yes we may be in for a string of chilly winters but ‘mini ice-age’ is an exaggeration. And the effect will (hopefully) be temporary.

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Britain’s Not So Green Utopia – A Lesson for the Gillard Government

This article in the UK’s Daily Mail Online sums up just where the Labor/Greens Government are taking Australia:

How climate change zealots are wrecking every last industry this country possesses

Rather overshadowed by events at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week was a line in George Osborne’s speech which could mark the start of a long overdue political transformation in Britain.  The Chancellor acknowledged that a decade of environmental laws had been piling unnecessary costs on households and companies, adding that Britain was not going to save the planet by putting ourselves out of business.

He was referring in particular to the Climate Change Act, famously passed by the House of Commons in October 2008 by 463 votes to three, even as the snow was falling outside. By the Government’s own estimate, it would cost £404?billion to implement – £760 per household every year for four decades.

Converted: Chancellor George Osborne has pulled back from the 'green abyss'
Converted: Chancellor George Osborne has pulled back from the ‘green abyss’

The Act included a voluntary commitment to reduce Britain’s carbon dioxide emissions to 80?per cent of their 1990 level by 2050 – a target generally acknowledged to be achievable only by shutting down most of the economy – in an effort to demonstrate ‘global leadership’.

But while Europe is taking a relaxed view of climate change, Britain seems to have excelled in devising more and more bizarre ways of bankrupting the nation.

It also insisted no more coal-fired power stations should be built unless they could be fitted with ‘carbon capture’, funded by a levy on energy bills which would raise £3?billion from hard-pressed consumers.

The overall effect of the unproven and probably unworkable technology to effectively bury carbon dioxide underground would be to double the price of electricity and make us even more dependent on Russian and other imported energy, which already supplies 70?per cent of our needs.

Nevertheless, a mad and ruinously expensive scheme was launched on the European stage. Industries should pay for using fossil fuels, through a ‘tax’ paid on each ton of carbon dioxide produced. Each company would have to buy certificates, known as ‘European allowances’ or ‘carbon credits’ – each representing a ton of carbon dioxide – with surpluses traded as a commodity.

The theory was that competition for a dwindling supply would force energy users to be more efficient. Instead, commercial users passed on the costs to their customers, with electricity prices rising for the average consumer by as much as £300.

Tens of thousands have been pushed into fuel poverty. Firms that could not pass on their costs moved abroad. Huge tranches of the aluminium industry have disappeared, one major firm having moved to the Emirates in October 2009 – taking 300 workers from Anglesey who had to follow to keep their jobs.

The madness didn’t stop there. In February 2010, Gordon Brown’s cash-strapped Government spent £60??million on ‘carbon credits’ for Whitehall and other Government offices in the UK, as well as British Nato bases in Europe.

Thus while troops were going short of kit in Afghanistan, the defence budget was being raided to buy carbon certificates.

When he became Prime Minister, David Cameron carried on the theme, promptly declaring that he wanted the Coalition to be ‘the greenest Government ever’.

And last week, even as Mr Osborne was standing up to deliver his speech in Manchester, Davin Bates, a management accountant at one of Stoke-on-Trent’s remaining successful potteries, was preparing to tell the world how spiralling energy costs – artificially inflated by ‘green’ levies and taxes – were driving energy-intensive companies like his out of the UK.

Particularly affected is the chemical industry, which contributes £30?million a day to the British economy. Major chemical multinationals are now looking to move production to places such as South Africa, India and China. There, under a global carbon credit scheme, we actually subsidise them by giving them credits – which they then sell back to our industries, making huge profits.

I haven’t even mentioned the madness of the wind machines. Subsidies, paid for by consumers, make wind power three times more costly than the normal tariff electricity. But as the pull of the subsidies draws investment away from new conventional plants, the spectre of power cuts looms large.

Caught in this vice of increasing ‘green’ costs and subsidised competition, the manufacturing industries which Osborne hopes will lead the UK recovery simply cannot survive.

Small wonder, therefore, that he bowed to the inevitable and pulled back from the green abyss.

Many believe that Osborne’s conversion is too little too late, but it is some small comfort at least, that we no longer have a Chancellor – or even a Prime Minister – keen to parade his ‘green’ credentials. Perhaps they are beginning to understand that, when the lights go out, all colours look the same: black.

If Britain is to pull itself out of economic crisis, Mr Osborne is going to have to go much further. At the very least, he has to lift this senseless raft of green taxes from industry and the electricity generators.

  • Richard North is co-author of Scared To Death: From BSE To Global Warming – Why Scares  Are Costing Us The Earth.