Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Green Jobs Come Real Jobs Go

Power Magazine whose mission is to cover Business and Technology for the Global Generation Industry reports on what Green Energy is doing to Spain. It is pretty ugly.

Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, PhD, an economics professor at King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, completed Spain’s first comprehensive review of the long-term effects of Spain’s renewable energy policy on jobs and the economy. His report, "Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources," was released in March. Some of its most surprising findings include these:
* The premium paid for renewable power in Spain that’s charged to consumers translates into $774,000 for each Spanish "green job" created since 2000. In an interview with Bloomberg, Álvarez stated: "The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices."
* The study calculates that the programs creating those jobs resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every "green job" created. The report notes that Obama’s estimates of job creation gloss over jobs lost due to lost opportunity in the private capital market or the higher efficiency of private capital employed in renewable energy investment. Álvarez concluded that each "green" megawatt installed destroys 5.28 jobs on average elsewhere in the economy: 8.99 by photovoltaics, 4.27 by wind energy, and 5.05 by mini-hydro.
Now couple that knowledge with how people are feeling about the US Economy.
A string of new polls seems to show that America’s belief in the wonder-working power of Obamanomics has begun to fade. A Pew poll found President Obama’s economic approval rating has fallen to 52 percent from 60 percent in April. A Wall Street Journal poll found 53 percent disapprove of his handling of GM and Chrysler vs. 39 who approve. And the New York Times found that 60 percent don’t think Obama has a “clear plan” to deal with the monstrous budget deficit.

Okay, here’s the thing: Obama took a tremendous economic and political gamble last January. The new president had the option of putting forward a stimulus plan that would attempt to reverse or significantly dampen America’s terrible economic downturn ASAP. The quickest and most effective approach would have been a big cut in payroll taxes. For $800 billion, combined Social Security and Medicare taxes could have been slashed by 6 percentage points, or 40 percent. That would have put $1,500 in worker paychecks and, according to one credible study, increased employment by 4 million jobs in 2009.

Instead, Obama chose to listen to Rahm “Never let a crisis go to waste” Emanuel and put forward an $800 billion plan that advanced his healthcare, energy and education policy goals — but pretty much neglected the economy in 2009. Team Obama had to fully understand this. Indeed, a study from the Congressional Budget Office study — when led by current Obama budget chief Peter Orszag — concluded that an Obama-like economic stimulus package would be “totally impractical” because it would take so long to implement. (True enough, only seven percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been doled out so far.)
And how about the rosy future we have hears so much about in the last few months, "an economy on the mend".
The terrible tale of the tape: a) the current downturn is arguably the worse since the Great Depression; b) household wealth has fallen by $14 trillion during the past two years, including the first quarter of 2009; c) while the economy may not shrink as much this quarter as it did in the previous three months (-5.7 percent) or the final quarter of 2008 (-6.3 percent), unemployment is soaring; d) Obama himself said the jobless rate will hit 10 percent this year; d) even worse, the Federal Reserve sees it approaching 11 percent next year. (Recall, that the original White House economic analysis of the Obama economic plan never saw unemployment exceeding 8 percent if Obamanomics was passed by Congress.)

So now many Americans are rightfully wondering just what they are getting for that $800 billion, as well as massive budget deficits as far as the eye can see. And it goes beyond the mercurial world of polling. Pricey plans to deal with perceived climate change and healthcare are also appear on the ropes or are being scaled back as voters view them as lower priorities than job creation and taming out-of-control spending.

Green shoots? Oh there are some to be sure. Just yesterday, the Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators rose by its biggest monthly amount in five years And the stock market is up nearly 40 percent from its lows as depression fears ebb. Gluskin Sheff economist David Rosenberg, by contrast, declares that the “era of the green shoots is over.” He points out that 1) bellwether FedEx described the economy as “extremely difficult” when it reported disappointing earnings , 2) United Airlines said second quarter traffic fell as much at 10.5 percent, 3) commercial real estate loan concerns led S&P to cut ratings on 22 non-”too big too fail” regional banks; 4) incomes are being pinched by rising gas prices, and 5) surging interest rates are refreezing the housing market.
The Republicans tried to tell Obama what to do: "lower taxes, drill for oil, implement alternative energy when it becomes cheaper than the alternative". Was Mr. Obama listening? Evidently not. Let us hope his party pays for it in the 2010 mid-term elections.

And about that health care thing? Bill Whittle has some words on the subject. The words are not kind to Mr. Obama and his Democrat confederates.

So what do I think is required to get us out of the current mess? Cheaper energy. And not just oil. Although we need to bring more of that to market. It wouldn't hurt to get electrical energy below the price of coal. I think fusion might be an answer.

You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering

Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained.

And the best part about Polywell? We Will Know In Two Years.

The next best? If it works it should be possible to make fusion electricity for about the same price or less than coal electricity.

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

11 comments:

ZenDraken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZenDraken said...

Obamanomics springs from the same type of ignorance that leads some people to waste money on perpetual motion machines.

Money is energy. Economics is thermodynamics.

(More accurately: *Value* is energy. Money may or may not have value depending on inflation.)

99% said...

Msimon,

Are you 99% sure that we'll know in two years?

Or 100%? Sounds like the latter.

I'll expect a 6-9 month "extension" to that estimate in 6-9 months.

Anything to keep the military money flowing to garage-level research.

Let me know when you're finished with that vacuum chamber, if it's UHV compatible I may be able to use it as a test chamber for future CIGS source development.

LarryD said...

99%, The Polywell research answers to the US Navy, which wants a concentrated, high power generator for its future vision of all electric ships of the line.

ITER can get away (maybe) with telling politicians that they'll produce commercial fusion in a hundred years, the US Navy won't be so patient.

Judging by the contract for WB8+, Polywell is already already further along than ITER. The Navy included "it is expected that ... the p-B11 reaction will be demonstrated". This is a much harder reaction to accomplish, compared to the deuterium cycle. Magnetic confinement can't even begin to approach it. And the Navy is already looking forward to WB9.

But even if everything goes well, we won't have a commercial fusion plant up and running before 2020.

Drill (for oil) and mine (for coal), keep up the research and cross your fingers. We should plan on some sort of deep burn fission plants, if only to extract the remaining 95% energy from the "spent" fuel rods we already have, reduce the waste issue, and replace the oldest still operating plants newer and safer technology.

The North Coast said...

Forget about fusion for the time being, even though some recent strides have been made.

The ticket now is the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor, which A)is infinitely safer than the traditional Light Water Reactor by virtue of its design, B)is extremely "scalable", and can be very small, such as the unit being installed in Galena, AL, or can be made very large by bunching a number of units together, C)is mass produced in a factory and hauled by truck or rail, thus realizing great economies by mass production, as opposed to the custom built LTWs now in service and D) best of all, can extend the fuel cycle by hundreds of years and produces little waste.

For more information on the latest developments and general technical information on the LFTR and the newer, safer, mass-produced Stage 3 LTWs being built in India and China, go to the blog "Nuclear Green" at http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com.

M. Simon said...

The LFTR looks nice but the economics don't make sense except for isolated Alaskan Villages who will have their reactors subsidized.

M. Simon said...

Nuclear Green

The North Coast said...

Actually, the more LFTRs are produced, the more economic sense they make.

They could produce electricity as cheaply as .06/KwH.

They compare favorably with such renewables as solar and wind.

They compare unfavorably with coal and gas only as long as supplies of these two commodities remain plentiful. However, a slight increase, say of 2% a year, of our consumption of coal and gas, could drive them into rapid depletion, and thus drive the prices up steeply.

M. Simon said...

NC,

It certainly would be a good idea to build a few different designs and get some operational experience.

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