The Solar Millennium plant, by the way, will occupy over 7000 acres: something like 11 square miles. It will not be coming to a neighborhood near you anytime soon, unless you live in a desert. If it can raise enough money for complete construction, the next question will be whether or not it can make a profit for its investors, or whether it's investors will be involuntary: that is, you and me. Meanwhile the financing is guaranteed by our Uncle Sam. I wonder whether or not they paid for the 7000 Federal acres? And why aren't the environmentalists screaming about this loss to the Mohave desert? Stay tuned.
One of the saddest things I ever heard was from a Frenchman, an elderly man who had at one time been a very, very big wheel in the French nuclear industry. A raving NASA fan, and truly a sympathetic observer of America, he led me to the window of his home and waved off at a nuke in the distance. He said, "nuclear power has been good for France. I know that you don't use it as much as you could, for politcal reasons. But it has been safe and inexpensive here." Then he added the punch line: "these reactors are American designs: very nice." Gee...
I agree to this extent with T in AZ: I don't see why the government has to stick it's nose in this business. The reason that solar power isn't the solution to the large-scale energy story is that it's a small-scale energy solution. Why? 1) It costs a fortune/kWh and 2) there's not enough energy on the ground from the sun anyway. Go figure it out, it's easy enough to get average insolation values for wherever you live. Now, innovation and research may help lower the cost of conversion, but #2 puts an upper limit on what you are going to collect no matter how efficient you become. Personally, I don't want the government to spend my money on enormous investments in green energy nonsense. I have to be convinced that a particular solution warrants the expenditure of my taxes. One last rant: I don't want the utilities to be required to buy back power from anyone. If I make "buy back" power available to my utility at a good rate, and they think so, no one stops them from buying it back. If they are forced to buy it, I raise my price and lower my output to suit myself. Not good. Right now, I buy my electricity from a coop, and pay about 7 cents / kWh. I really, really, don't want the genii in the federal government to tell my utility what to do for my good. 7 cents is good enough. I'm not sure T in Az agrees with me in all of this, but I'm happy to listen to him or anyone else who's wary, right off the top, of the government "helping out".
I believe we must move off oil as fast as possible for many reasons, the most important being that humanity needs to progress.
The law of cost, all costs are opportunity costs, the true cost being what is given up to get something.
The law of unintended consequences, human actions, and especially governmental acts, have consequences, not intended and not anticipated by the actors.
Let me translate Burns points:
1) Create legislative monopoly
2) Provide free cash for R&D from tax payers
3) Use public education funding to indoctrinate students into being green consumers and green workers
4) US Goverment has to purchase products to create demand.
There is plenty of capital out there for good ideas and business plans. If you can't convince cash heavy investors then your plan has problems. It time for US companies to stop using the goverment to fund it R&D then shipping the manufacturing intellectual property overseas for profit. You can't save US jobs if it is cheaper to manufactor goods outside the US.
Here is my points:
1) US patents are only protected for products produced in US.
2) US funded R&D that results in a patentable discovery is open to all US companies to utilize.
3) Reduce Corporate Taxes.
4) Consolidate the numerous regulatory agencies and paperwork they require.
I suppose Ms Burns meant government money when she talked of increased investments. Government subsidies to manufacturers is the wrong way to promote renewable energy and create green jobs. The best way to stimulate demand is for governments (federal, state or local) to provide loan guarantees and tax incentives to households that purchase green power generating equipment (mostly solar and wind).
From a taxpayer's viewpoint it's great to get your tax dollars back and have your purchase price go down by almost half. From the government's perspective, increased consumer demand will immediately translate into increased demand for services and manufacturing, and the creation of green jobs.
As far as leading by example in the implementation, we got great news today when Solar Millennium announced the final federal approval of the world's largest solar plant in California. However, it's a bit of a bittersweet moment because Solar Millennium is... German!
Government has a huge part to play for green energy to be successful. This is why NGOs and pressure groups lobby the government to ensure that attractive incentives and regulations are formulated by political leaders.
My question is: I believe the world must gradually move off oil because it is not a sustainable form of energy. However, in the long term, will green energy really be affordable? Will green energy eventually compete, dollar for dollar with oil?
When Net-metering is the law of the land (here in Florida it is not), alternative energy sources are cost competitive with the current sources, and the design life of the equipment is significantly longer than the payback period, the country will move to alternative energy on its own. Until then, it isn't going to happen (unless of course the gov outlaws all current energy sources!).