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Solar Industry Learns Lessons in Spanish Sun
New York Times ^ | March 8, 2010 | Elisabeth Rosenthal

Posted on 03/09/2010 3:11:54 AM PST by reaganaut1

PUERTOLLANO, Spain — Two years ago, this gritty mining city hosted a brief 21st-century gold rush. Long famous for coal, Puertollano discovered another energy source it had overlooked: the relentless, scorching sun.

Armed with generous incentives from the Spanish government to jump-start a national solar energy industry, the city set out to replace its failing coal economy by attracting solar companies, with a campaign slogan: “The Sun Moves Us.”

Soon, Puertollano, home to the Museum of the Mining Industry, had two enormous solar power plants, factories making solar panels and silicon wafers, and clean energy research institutes. Half the solar power installed globally in 2008 was installed in Spain.

Farmers sold land for solar plants. Boutiques opened. And people from all over the world, seeing business opportunities, moved to the city, which had suffered from 20 percent unemployment and a population exodus.

But as low-quality, poorly designed solar plants sprang up on Spain’s plateaus, Spanish officials came to realize that they would have to subsidize many of them indefinitely, and that the industry they had created might never produce efficient green energy on its own.

In September the government abruptly changed course, cutting payments and capping solar construction. Puertollano’s brief boom turned bust. Factories and stores shut, thousands of workers lost jobs, foreign companies and banks abandoned contracts that had already been negotiated.

“We lost the opportunity to be at the vanguard of renewables — we were not only generating electricity, but also a strong economy,” said Joaquín Carlos Hermoso Murillo, Puertollano’s mayor since 2004. “Why are they limiting solar power, when the sun is unlimited?”

Puertollano’s wrenching fall points to the delicate policy calculations needed to stimulate nascent solar industries and create green jobs, and might serve as a cautionary tale for the United States

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: energy; solar; solarenergy; spain

1 posted on 03/09/2010 3:11:54 AM PST by reaganaut1
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To: reaganaut1
“Why are they limiting solar power, when the sun is unlimited?”

Because money isn't....
2 posted on 03/09/2010 3:13:34 AM PST by Kozak (USA 7/4/1776 to 1/20/2009 Reqiescat in Pace)
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To: Kozak

That’s really it. Solar is pretty good as far as alternatives go but it generally isn’t cost effective and it isn’t efficient everywhere.


3 posted on 03/09/2010 3:18:25 AM PST by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin!)
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To: reaganaut1

Going green means a scam...


4 posted on 03/09/2010 3:20:13 AM PST by vetvetdoug
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To: reaganaut1

At this point in time, only the greedy or the dense are for solar electricity en masse.


5 posted on 03/09/2010 3:20:42 AM PST by qwertypie
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To: cripplecreek

Solar is a nice booster (especially in places like Texas during the summer when power demand is high due to air conditioning and it pretty much never gets cloudy) but it’s not something you should rely on as a main power source.

The best (theoretical) setup I’ve seen is actual photovoltaics on a home roof, charging up a battery or ultracapacitor array, which the home’s climate control can draw against in addition to power coming in, with the photovoltaics coming from Nanosolar (who has figured out a way to make really cheap ones).


6 posted on 03/09/2010 3:24:51 AM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: qwertypie

Got that right.

Adding this to ...

Obama-nomics & Greece [link-list]
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2464021/posts?page=4


7 posted on 03/09/2010 3:26:41 AM PST by Arthur Wildfire! March (ONLINE TAX REVOLT 150,000 AND GROWING. http://www.onlinetaxrevolt.com)
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To: Spktyr

I’ve got “michigan solar” which means lots of low E glass on the south side.


8 posted on 03/09/2010 3:28:28 AM PST by cripplecreek (Remember the River Raisin!)
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To: reaganaut1
Whilst I generally agree with the articles conclusions about the unfavorable economics of solar energy at present, the NYT writer seems to be perpetually mired in a myopic world where government “policy”, subsidies, and incentives are the make-or-break variables, not good old fashioned profits and the economics of competition. I guess it's hard to change course when you've been the leading cheer leading paper for socialism in the free world for over seventy years.
9 posted on 03/09/2010 3:39:37 AM PST by SpaceBar
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To: reaganaut1
the city set out to replace its failing coal economy

Failing per government mandate. First they starve the people out then they subsidize them.

That people cannot see the relationship is a testament to the effectiveness of government schooling.

10 posted on 03/09/2010 3:50:56 AM PST by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: SpaceBar
Many things are technically feasible which aren't economically feasible.
11 posted on 03/09/2010 4:17:09 AM PST by Citizen Tom Paine
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To: reaganaut1

ping


12 posted on 03/09/2010 4:19:16 AM PST by 4Speed
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To: reaganaut1
To the extent that these technologies can be used in rural pockets to either supplement or defer the extension of costly cross country transmission facilities they certainly have reached an efficiency level to play a part.

But those that expect to stick up windmills, lay out some panels without regard, as Spain apparently did, to technology quality and efficiency, and eschew the 'grid', will be, some time to come, disappointed.

13 posted on 03/09/2010 4:22:29 AM PST by n230099
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To: reaganaut1

Sacramento, CA is actually a good place for solar power for one reason: enough cloudless days in summer to make solar panels reasonably viable (I see a lot of houses in nearby Davis, CA with solar panels on the roof). This isn’t like the Bay Area, where the low clouds and rolling fog in the summer can cut the efficiency of solar panels quite a bit.


14 posted on 03/09/2010 4:46:17 AM PST by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's economic cure)
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To: reaganaut1

You mean....the govt can’t just “create” green jobs by law?


15 posted on 03/09/2010 5:11:08 AM PST by Travis McGee (---www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com---)
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To: n230099
A big problem with solar is storage batteries - a huge expense, and an ongoing one. I still have trouble imagining running a 230 volt clothes dryer on solar...

Build nuclear power plants and let the Navy and the Marines run them. Reliability and security guaranteed! End of problem.

16 posted on 03/09/2010 5:19:21 AM PST by Huebolt (Democrat = (national socialist) = NAZI)
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To: reaganaut1

when the sun is unlimited?”.....

In my corner of the world, the sun sets, for example, disappears for 12 hours a day.....the sun is not unlimited!!!


17 posted on 03/09/2010 5:27:39 AM PST by thinking
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To: Spktyr
It's nice until you get one of those famous roof destroying hail storms that seem to hit West, Central, and North Texas about twice a year.

Then it's bye-bye green rooftop PV system. I had one that badly damaged a supplemental hot water system I had on my home in Granbury in the 80's. The insurance did not cover it.

18 posted on 03/09/2010 6:05:57 AM PST by nuke rocketeer (File CONGRESS.SYS corrupted: Re-boot Washington D.C (Y/N)?)
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To: Huebolt
The Marines do not know squat about running commercial nuclear plants and it usually takes the Navy boys a few years to adjust properly from the government to the commercial world. probably 60-70%, if not more, of the management and at least 40-50% of the engineering/technical staff at US commercial nuclear plants are ex Navy already.

We don't need Marines for security at them either. Nukes are very hard targets. If you don't believe me, go try breaking into one.

19 posted on 03/09/2010 6:10:40 AM PST by nuke rocketeer (File CONGRESS.SYS corrupted: Re-boot Washington D.C (Y/N)?)
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To: nuke rocketeer

Ahh! Already solved then!


20 posted on 03/09/2010 6:23:23 AM PST by Huebolt (Democrat = (national socialist) = NAZI)
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To: nuke rocketeer

That’s why I said the Nanosolar product. It’s basically a flexible sheet of plastic that is a photovoltaic cell - hail would have little to no effect on it.


21 posted on 03/09/2010 12:28:57 PM PST by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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