Yet another <span style="color: #008000;">green</span> energy project goes bust

Right below one of William Teach’s famed If all you see . . . posts is one which is pretty closely related:

First Solar Lays Off 2,000 In Germany

By William Teach April 17, 2012 – 10:53 am

First Solar, a recipient of oodles of American taxpayer money, which is having lots of problems here in the US, and is being sued for deceiving the public, among others, is also having problems overseas

(LA Times) First Solar Inc. is laying off 2,000 workers and closing its plant in Frankfurt, Germany, in response to waning demand for solar panels and increased competition from China.

America’s largest maker of solar panels said the layoffs amount to 30 percent of its global workforce. Some cuts come from shutting down the Frankfurt (Oder) plant, where it doubled the number of employees to more than 1,200 just last year. The company will also shutter some production in Malaysia. Additional jobs will be cut in both Europe and the U.S.

Solar manufacturers have been hurt by the global recession, an influx of Chinese panels and declining subsidy programs in Europe. Germany, the world’s largest market for solar power, announced in February that it would cut solar subsidies by 30 percent.

They’ve also been hurt by their products being priced beyond what most individuals and private companies will pay, especially when the investment tends to me a money loser. But, hey, it’s obvious that the business model, taking taxpayer money and squandering it on worthless products “that are cheaper and less efficient than their competitors” but are still more expensive than old school energy products in an attempt to stop ‘climate change’ can’t possibly be the problem.

Mr Teach is focused on the fact that solar panels are simply not economically competitive, but what I see is a business model which is based not on selling solar panels, but on filling out the paperwork to get government subsidies.

solyndra By Fred Lucas | April 16, 2012

( – A bankruptcy court ordered $368,500 in bonuses for 20 top managers and employees of Solyndra, the solar panel firm that received $535 million from taxpayers two years before filing for bankruptcy and laying off 11,000 employees. The bonuses kicked in on March 31.

The 20 high-level workers earned a total base pay of $2.49 million before the bonuses. One of the executives earned a base annual salary of $206,499 and received a $30,000 incentive under the handed down on Feb. 22 by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary F. Walrath in Delaware.

Another executive earning $189,000 in base pay was awarded a $20,000 bonus and a third, who earned $190,800, received $15,000 more.

There was a great line in the movie Dr Strangelove, in which President Merkin Muffley is questioning Air Force General “Buck” Turgidson about the Human Reliability Tests, and how General Jack Ripper somehow managed to slip through, and launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. General Turgidson’s response was, “I don’t think that it’s fair to condemn the whole program over a single slip-up.” And that was the defense used by many of our friends on the left when the Solyndra bankruptcy became big news. Brad Plumer, writing on Ezra Klein’s “Wonkblog” on The Washington Post, said, on September 14, 2011:

(Myth #2) Solyndra proves that energy-loan guarantees are a flop. Not exactly. The Energy Department’s loan-guarantee program, enacted in 2005 with bipartisan support, has backed nearly $38 billion in loans for 40 projects around the country. Solyndra represents just 1.3 percent of that portfolio — and, as yet, it’s the only loan that has soured. Other solar beneficiaries, such as SunPower and First Solar, are still going strong.

Mr Plumer couldn’t have picked worse. First Solar’s problems are already documented above in this article, and now this:

SunPower announced it was closing a 125-MW capacity manufacturing facility in the Philippines and pushing some of those operations to its 575-MW Fab 2 facility also in the Philippines. The company’s 600-MW plant in Malaysia remains its biggest operation.

The left-leaning Mr Plumer, working for the left-leaning Washington Post, writing on the (hard) left-leaning Mr Klein’s Wonkblog, dutifully defended the left-leaning Obama Administration,1 and now leftist-driven environmentalist projects have met cold, hard economic reality.2 The Bush and Obama Administrations were taking business and economic decisions based not on business and economic calculations and merit, but upon environmentalist and political desires. Solar power panels were a good investment because they wanted them to be a good investment.

But desire does not always converge with reality; sometimes they meet in a head-on collision. But in that collision, desire is like the Chevy Volt, and reality looks like a freight train; it may be messy, but reality always wins.


  1. To be fair, not all of the blame can be assigned to the Obama Administration; some of this idiocy was started under President Bush.
  2. Your Editor is somewhat displeased that two companies, SunPower and First Solar, described as “Two American solar heavyweights built on overseas manufacturing” would be receiving United States government loan guarantees in the first place, but that’s a subject for another article.

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