The US Republican party has seized on the half billion dollar bankruptcy of Solyndra to prove that green jobs are some sort of scam, and green power doesn’t work. They’ve seized on one bankruptcy to prove that all clean tech companies are doomed to failure, and government shouldn’t invest in them. But Californa’s Solyndra was just one innovative clean tech investment among $90 billion worth of clean tech investments by the Department of Energy under the Obama administration’s Recovery Act.
The other 99% are doing fine. And the resulting solar job growth, at 69%, is the one bright spark in the dismal US economy, as we’ve covered here. ( BrightSource Solar Project to Make More Energy than Fossil Fuel Plants)
The Republican party, deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and almost exclusively bankrolled by them, is trying to prevent the growth of clean energy. Already this year since taking over the House of Representatives, Republicans have voted 125 times to reverse, slow or simply defund environmental and renewable energy initiatives passed by the previous Democratic congress. (Utility-Scale Solar Projects Become a Casualty of Republican Hostage-Taking
They have latched onto this one bankruptcy as the perfect evidence, as Grist’s David Roberts put it “that clean energy is weak, unreliable, marginal, and dependent on government subsidies. They have been trying to make that case for a long while”. They are trying to cook it up as another of their trumped-up climategate moments.
But here are the actual facts about US solar growth – the results of the Democrats’ support of clean energy:
- The solar industry now employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states.
- The U.S. solar industry grew by 69% in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.
- Since the beginning of 2010, the price of solar panels has dropped by 30%, and costs continue to fall making solar an even more viable choice for residential and business customers.
- The U.S. was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion. We were even a net exporter to China.
- Solar power in the U.S. now exceeds 3,100 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 630,000 homes.
- Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio.
And here is where Solyndra fits in. Like BrightSource (US Govt. Guarantees $1.4 Billion in Loans For BrightSource) Solyndra had received a loan guarantee from the DOE for half a billion, out of a total of $90 billion that was spent under the Recovery Act. Unlike 99% of the innovative firms successfully funded by the Recovery Act, Solyndra could not survive a 30% drop in solar prices in 2011 in the US.
Any venture capitalist will tell you that some of their investments fail. (and rise again:Luz Rises Again as BrightSource)
This year, Solyndra was that one.
But there was no reason for anyone to predict that Solyndra would be the one that would not make it, back when the wheels began turning for funding them in 2007. Their unique cylindrical solar panels that could be popped together on flat commercial roofs as quickly as unfolding a cot looked like a surefire winner.
But, unlike the investment in Solyndra, the vast majority of the solar investments made by the Recovery Act are paying off handsomely. In an economy where job losses are mounting, the solar industry has grown 69% in the last year.
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