Poor math skills may explain why the New York Times is apparently okay with green jobs that cost $5 million each — and check out our prescription for solar industry success.
In the wake of the Solyndra scandal, the Times editorialized this morning that,
The truth of the matter is that when judged by its diverse portfolio, the [Department of Energy] loan program appears, at least so far, to have performed well. The Solyndra investment represents less than 2 percent of nearly $40 billion in loan guarantees for about three dozen innovative projects. Some of them — advanced automobile battery projects, for instance — have provided thousands of much-needed jobs in Michigan and other recession-battered states.
But even the Washington Post has said that, not only does the green jobs dog not hunt, it shouldn’t be unleashed.
[The government] just needs to limit its intervention [in green technology] to an earlier stage in the process: basic scientific research. This is a traditional public good — potentially useful to society but financially unattractive to the private sector. Leave the high-risk, high-reward business of manufacturing and selling specific energy technologies to the market…
… “green jobs” offer a dubious rationale for federal support of clean-energy technology.
Part of the Times‘ problem is that is lacks an understanding of basic math concepts.
The Times‘ wrote,
Recent studies suggest that, globally, renewable energy will grow faster than any other energy source in the coming decades.
So it’s true that if solar (about 1 percent of U.S. electricity generation) increases to 2 percent, that would be growth of 100%. But fossil fuels (already about 70 percent of U.S. electricity generation) have no such opportunity. By virtue of its smallness, solar almost can’t help but grow faster than alternatives, especially fossil fuels.
Moreover, solar is only growing to the extent that it’s purchasers have extra cash sloshing around or can abuse other people’s money (i.e., taxpayers). Both situations are coming to a rapid end.
If the solar industry wants to survive until its technology is competitive, robust economic growth — such that people feel wealthy enough to pay for overpriced electricity — will be required.
Solar dreamers and schemers would greatly increase the odds of that by dropping their support for President Obama like a used photon.