The Corner

No Green Shoots in Green Energy

While the Obama campaign’s new leaflet continues to trumpet green energy as an avenue of economic growth, key players in the actual economy increasingly realize it probably isn’t. Within the past week, the following have happened: China began in earnest its state-led bailout of solar companies to save them from the crashing price of solar panels, purchasing a vastly overvalued share in one solar-energy company. The entire attempt to save the industry is projected to cost 70 billion yuan, or about $11 billion.

Meanwhile, Siemens has announced that it hopes to spin off its solar business, saying that “due to the changed framework conditions, lower growth and strong price pressure in the solar markets, the company’s expectations for its solar energy activities have not been met.” This is despite the fact that Siemens’s home market is Germany, a country which over the past couple years has recklessly abandoned nuclear power and other sources in favor of an aggressive push into solar and wind (so far, electricity rates have skyrocketed).

GE’s energy division is also souring on green energy: Uncertainty over the extension of the wind-energy tax credit (Romney has forgone the votes it would win him in Iowa) has hurt their sales and profits significantly. In the third quarter, wind-turbine sales fell 69 percent, reducing their energy division’s profits by 20 percent; their quarterly earnings call repeatedly emphasized that essentially every division of the company had expanded, excluding wind.

Finally, another Americna industrial giant, DuPont, isn’t so happy with green energy either. Business Insider reports, from the company’s quarterly call, that they see a flat market for solar panels in 2013. And interestingly, some of this they blame on the Obama administration’s restrictions on Chinese solar suppliers: “Trade actions taken [have] really created — the best thing I can call it is confusion, uncertainty that is impacting demand.” (Noah Glyn wrote about these protectionist policies this summer.)

Patrick Brennan — Patrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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