Thursday, September 29, 2011

Solyndra and Renewable Growing Pains

For all those clean energy hopefuls fretting over the dramatic and costly collapse of Solyndra, USA Today says that studies support investments in clean tech industries. Besides, these are the growing pains of a nascent industry.

There is no need to let one well-publicized failure taint the progress of building a clean energy economy.

But certainly those opposed to clean energy are eating up Solyndra's failre. Course they may be a bit tongue tied because their common refrain is that clean energy solutions should be "market based", and it was the market that tanked Solyndra.

The market for silicon in this case. It changed dramatically because Chinese businesses entered the fray. Since the Chinese government sees the global opportunity and has seized it, nearly all aspects of a renewable energy economy are being or will soon be lead by the Chinese.

Meanwhile, US politicians on the federal level are either in the pockets of big fossil fuel or are more interested in keeping their jobs.

But I digress.

"Energy-efficiency loans are a stable investment with low default rates and large-scale potential, according to a study released Tuesday by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The review of 24 loan programs found default rates ranged from 0% to 3% throughout the life of the financing and remained largely unchanged despite the near collapse of the real estate market over the past few years," according to USA Today.

Keep in mind, too, that businesses fail all the time in all aspects of the economy. It happens. Don't get me wrong, the Obama Administration and the Department of Energy should be asked the hard questions of what happened on their watch.

Anyway, one Solyndra should not stop the renewable energy economy. Renewable energy needs inspiration and innovation, and government support to bring down the cost of clean energy while the true cost of fossil fuels -- in health care, wars, lost ecosystem services -- becomes transparent.

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