Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thomas Friedman sings my song

In an article at the New York Times, Friedman wonders why an American solar firm has set up so many plants abroad, mainly in Germany. His answer:

... their governments have put in place the three perquisites for growing a renewable energy industry: 1) any business or homeowner can generate solar energy; 2) if they decide to do so, the power utility has to connect them to the grid; and 3) the utility has to buy the power for a predictable period at a price that is a no-brainer good deal for the family or business putting the solar panels on their rooftop.

Excellent synopsis! At present, American citizens are largely unable to invest in renewables and get a return on their investment at all. Instead, utilities are required by law in most states to get a certain share of their energy production from renewables. Community-driven projects are few and far between in the US, so Americans can only really invest in solar companies on the stock market if they want to become part of the act...

I have also written here several times about the criticism of "green jobs," and Friedman comes in very nicely on this one:

If you read some of the anti-green commentary today, you’ll often see sneering references to “green jobs.” The phrase is usually in quotation marks as if it is some kind of liberal fantasy or closet welfare program (and as if coal, oil and nuclear don’t get all kinds of subsidies). Nonsense. In 2008, more silicon was consumed globally making solar panels than microchips...

I suppose I should not be too surprised to read this from him. After all, he is the guy who said many years ago, "If you want to drive a Hummer, go to Iraq." But it is nonetheless always nice to see some content that could have appeared in this blog in the New York Times.

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