Facts About Government Support of Clean Energy Don't Matter If You've Already Decided It's Bad
As David Roberts astutely writes in Grist, on the downfall of Solyndra and the fact that both the Bush and Obama administrations were pushing to support the now bankrupt California solar power company, it appears that we're in for another Climategate. As then--when a scandal was created about climate change research when ultimately there was none (as was confirmed by numerous independent investigations)--the facts of the situation don't matter much. The situation has already been turned into a glaring example of the futility of liberalism, environmentalism, cleantech, and government in general, by Republicans.
There's plenty of rebuttal to that view out there already--and frankly for many TreeHugger readers the virtues of solar power, one spectacular startup failure aside, need not be affirmed again--but in case you need some talking points, Time (h/t Think Progress) has some good ones.
Government Has Always Supported Energy, Which Energy Source Is A Choice
The biggest one--and this applies to renewable energy in general--is that every single energy source we now use, or are likely to use in the future, has benefited extensively from government support. What energy sources we support, polluting or non-polluting is a choice not an inevitable force of nature.
Second, consistent, long-term government support is essential to develop renewable energy. Just look to what's happened in Germany with renewables (long-term support = massive growth) versus the US (inconsistent support = start-stop growth).
Third, in case you need some facts to prop things up, the support that we've given to renewables has largely been effective (while it lasts).
The Solyndra loan was not even 1% of the $40 billion in the Department of Energy's clean-energy portfolio. Loans from DoE in general have been solid, as the Time piece points out:
The loan guarantee program has been a particularly crucial driver for unusually large or innovative projects, like Project Solar Strong or a 250-megawatt solar generation plant in the Mojave Desert that just finalized a $1.2 billion loan guarantee on Tuesday, and will provide clean renewable power for more than 50,000 homes. Last week, the Obama administration approved a $150 million loan guarantee to 1366 Technologies, a Massachusetts firm with a new manufacturing process that could cut the cost of silicon wafers 50% and make solar even more cost-competitive.
More on Solyndra
Solar Power Innovator Solyndra Files For Bankruptcy
Solyndra Could Be The Biggest VC Loss in History