Here is an interesting article from about 6 months ago about wind power in Germany. It discusses what the German government was paying individuals for solar and wind power installations. And then it gets into politics.
Now I have nothing against wind power or solar power. I do have problems with articles that gush and fawn over something without clearly explaining the cost tradeoffs. In fact I wonder if the CSM article had the numbers right, a commenter to the article points out that Germany pays something more like $0.66 a kwh to PV power generators. The commenter also says the German power rates are something like $0.29 per kwh. What is even more disturbing is when the commenter says, “Each Renewable Energy source has different rates of support (Wind, Geo-thermal, Wave, Ocean Current, Bio-fuels, organic farming, Eco-friendly material production, etc).” Boy, you can see the handouts were more designed to increase the size of the bureaucracy than do any sensible energy policy. The tragedy of this German policy is that the government, about the most technically incompetent bunch of people you can find anywhere, is picking winner and losers. Oh, I am sure they can point to mountains of paper studies that supposedly lead to the various hand-out rates for the different energy sources, but the real deal is like with politicians everywhere, each industry put their brown envelopes under the table, or reminded the commissar about that “incident” at a party back in college twenty years ago, or just schmoozed an laughed at jokes until they got their handout allocation.The question is - why subsidize power generation at all? Put the money into research so the costs of alternative energy can come in below the costs of current sources. Of course research is not very expensive and it doesn't allow the government much leeway to hand out billions (is it now trillions?) to their favored cronies with the size of the packets in the brown envelopes making the difference as to who the politician's "real" friends are.
This is not energy policy, this is fascism. Having a strong central government working “in partnership” with big business is not democracy and it is never good, look at the two trillion dollars that our government is shoveling to Halliburton and its cronies. If you want to subsidize alternative energy you should set a fixed handout- 20, 30, 40, cents a kwh and let us technical types figure out the best way to get there. This is just a modern-day version of the farm handouts and dairy handouts and wheat handouts and a host of other subsidies that governments use to concentrate benefits (and brown envelopes) while diffusing costs. You are not doing anything sane if you tax the entire population and hand out incentives for people that want to put windmills up. The government is distorting the market and they are wasting the resources. But politicians always prefer to have the money sent to them and then doled out to their deadbeat relatives and favorite cronies.
The author of the article goes on to equate the current craze for alternative energy with Mao's Great Leap Forward.
I find it amusing that the same people who love centralized government demand decentralized business. They want a huge government that takes all our money and then hands it out in small dollops to make us behave the way the ruling elite wishes. In Red China Mao loved to see little steel mills in everybody’s back yard. The new advocates of big government now want us all to have wind generators and solar panels in our back yard. I agree with people that say we have to take away subsidies for big oil, but lets not then go on to hand them out to the folk-energy people. Either one is a betrayal of the public’s trust.Well our new Great Leader will surely do the right thing by us. Just ask him.