Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wind Power - Part 2

So both the Danish and British experience with wind power generation could only be described as inefficient at best. What then of Spain where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year and whose "green jobs transformation is held up as an example of how economies can be formulated in the new "low carbon" economies of the future?

President Obama, in fact in 2009, has used Spain’s green initiative as a blueprint for how the United States should use federal funds to stimulate the economy.

“Think of what’s happening in countries like Spain, Germany and Japan, where they’re making real investments in renewable energy,” said Obama while lobbying Congress, in January to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “They’re surging ahead of us, poised to take the lead in these new industries.”

“Their governments have harnessed their people’s hard work and ingenuity with bold investments — investments that are paying off in good, high-wage jobs — jobs they won’t lose to other countries,” said Obama. “There is no reason we can’t do the same thing right here in America. … In the process, we’ll put nearly half a million people to work building wind turbines and solar panels; constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings; and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to new jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.”

That was until he saw a report from Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, who said the United States should expect results similar to those in Spain:

“Spain’s experience (cited by President Obama as a model) reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created,” wrote Calzada in his report: Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources.

...According to the Calzada’s study, Spain is a strong example of the government spending money on green ideas to stimulate its economy.

“No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources,” says the report. “The arguments for Spain’s and Europe’s ‘green jobs’ schemes are the same arguments now made in the U.S., principally that massive public support would produce large numbers of green jobs.”

But in the study’s introduction Calzada argues that the renewable jobs program hindered, rather than helped, Spain’s attempts to emerge from its recession.

“The study’s results show how such ‘green jobs’ policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil,” says Calzada. “This study marks the very first time a critical analysis of the actual performance and impact has been made.”

Pat Michaels, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, a free market group, told that the study’s conclusions do not surprise him. He added that the United States should expect similar results with the stimulus money it spends on green initiatives.

“There is no reason to think things will be any different here,” Michaels said. “In the short run you have to ask who is doing the hiring, and in the long run how efficient is it to have people serving technology such as windmills. We are creating inefficiencies.”

Michaels also said he was not surprised by the study’s finding that only one out of 10 jobs were permanent.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” said Michaels. “
When we see how imperfect wind energy is and how expensive it is to maintain — I think many of those jobs will become impermanent here in the U.S. as well.”

The study calculates that since 2000, Spain spent €571,138 to create each “green job,” including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind-industry job.

Each “green” megawatt installed destroys 5.39 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photovoltaics, 4.32 by wind energy, 5.84 by mini-hydro.

This report infuriated the environmental movement and they have gone all out to discredit it and it's author or risk the public waking up to the cost (both in money and employment) and inefficiencies of renewables. An example can be found here. Some extracts of how they claim to have debunked this include:

..."And just where did that study come from? Professor Gabriel Calzada is the founder and president of the Fundacion Juan de Mariana, a libertarian think tank founded in 2005. He's also a fellow of the Center for New Europe, a Brussels-based libertarian think tank that in recent years apparently accepted funding from Exxon Mobil." reports that the
"Center for New Europe" - where Gabriel Calzada is a visiting fellow - has received $170,000 form ExxonMobil since 1998. Calzada also is tied into the Heartland Institute, another well-known hub of climate science denial.

Reuters put it - much more kindly then we would have, by the way - "Calzada, as the founder of a libertarian think tank, might not be completely objective."

Of course, it's one thing to have a bias of one kind or another. And it's another to write an unconvincing "study."

Dissecting their attack.

They use weasel word like "apparently" and try the classic Big Oil line to smear the author and breed doubt in the mind of the reader. They quote sums of thousands of dollars being donated (over an 11 year period...that would equate to less than $17,000 a year, not much to wage a war on is it?) They then tie him to an organisation that they label as "deniers" to reinforce the bad stereotyping. They then quote from a deep green blog (ExxonSecrets) who specialise in smears on known sceptics and also from a media organisation that rarely prints anything from the sceptics side (except to be critical of it). They also later quote from DeSmog blog, another deep green blog who specialise in smears and misinformation.

Yet having done this they claim it is Caldaza that "is not being objective" and is displaying "bias of one kind or another" and writes "an unconvincing study." How ironic.

Again written to the formula I wrote about in an earlier post.

National's Senator Barnaby Joyce in Australia is also a bit miffed about these new green jobs after quizzing a treasury official during a Senate enquiry into them, as can be seen here:

As part of the enquiry Senator Joyce asked the official for her top three prospects of where these new green jobs were going to come from in this new "low carbon" economy. Her answers (or lack there of) have to be seen to be believed so the link above is of the complete transcript of the meeting. A must read.

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