“Do we have the next Solyndra at hand?”
I had to shake my head when reading the recently published Fox News report: Another taxpayer-funded energy company files for bankruptcy.
Image cropped from Aquion Energy.
Hat-tip: Indomitable Snowman
According to Fox News, Pennsylvania-based Aquion Energy had received “a $5.2 million stimulus-tied grant” (not a loan) from the U.S. federal government and that the company had once been “touted as a rising star in the energy storage business”. It even attracted “an investment from Microsoft founder Bill Gates“.
On Wednesday Aquion Energy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
“North American Company of the Year”
Fox News adds:
In January, the company was named ‘the North American Company of the Year Award’ at the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco…”
This is a classic example of how a house of cards gets built and begins to collapse. It should remind us of what can happen whenever bureaucrats and politicians get so caught up in a pie-in-the-sky idea that they literally become deaf to technical, scientific and economic reason.
Multi-tiered subsidy debacle
There was certainly no lack of warnings from skeptics that renewable energies (mainly sun and wind) were fraught with daunting technical and economic obstacles, and that the technology for overcoming these obstacles still remained decades out into the future.
But green energy proponents wanted to hear none of it, and so embarked on a blind and reckless money give-away of the sort never seen before. Already trillions have been earmarked worldwide — one trillion in Germany alone.
Today the green energy subsidy folly has since made its way down through multiple supply tiers as the government funds tens of billions of dollars to prop up the junk science that tells us us we need the green energies, which in turn also receive hundreds of billions in subsidies. This in turn has led to billions in subsidies made to companies claiming to have the technologies for overcoming the technical hurdles that the rest of us had long warned about.
What’s next? As expected these companies are now folding. It was a scam all along, as they were never as close to solutions as they led many of us to believe. Now the government will have to subsidize the many workers who are losing their jobs, at least for awhile, as scheme implodes on itself. What a folly.
Driven by rampant cronyism
Naturally almost everyone supports funding for the development of new energy technologies, but there is a huge difference between pitch-forking tax dollars, by the billions, into a huge crony feeding trough, and wisely and strategically allocating precious funds to the right places.
Unfortunately the green industry has been one driven by cronyism, and not technical or scientific merit — and certainly not economics. It has been a huge bonanza for very few at the great expense of the common good. The hundreds and hundreds of billions wasted would have been far better invested elsewhere.
The storage solutions come from the past, not the future
When it comes to efficient energy storage, putting a man on the moon is in fact easy compared to finding a new way that stores energy even a fraction as well as a chunk of coal, a bottle of gas, or can of petroleum does. In fact we find the storage solution millions of years in the past in the form of fossil fuels, and not the shady, over-hyped half-baked technologies of today.
There are all kinds of future energy storage solutions out there. But so far most of them hold little or no promise of even coming close to being economical. It’s going to take years or decades to develop them, and we have to be smart about how we do this. We cannot continue pouring money on something that will never work.
Yet, until bureaucrats wake up to this truth, expect many more Solyndras and Acquion Energy debacles in the years ahead.