Thursday, September 03, 2009

Spain's Solar-Power Collapse Dims Subsidy

(Editor’s Note: This editor has been consistent in questioning massive governmental subsidies to "manufacture" demand for alternative energy. Governments cannot "conjure" productivity. There is no point in building alternative energy facilities if there is not productivity-driven growth to absorb it.)


Spain's hopes of becoming a world leader in solar power have collapsed since the Spanish government slammed the brakes on generous subsidies.

The sudden change has rippled across the global solar industry, in a warning of the problems that government-supported renewable-energy programs can encounter.

In 2008, Spain accounted for half the world's new solar-power installations in terms of wattage, thanks to government subsidies to promote clean energy. But late last year, as the global economic crisis worsened, the government dramatically scaled back those subsidies and capped the amount of subsidized solar power that could be installed.

Factories world-wide that had ramped up production of solar-power components found that demand for solar panels was plummeting, leaving a glut in supply and pushing prices down. Job cuts followed.

"The solar industry in 2009 has been undermined by [a] collapse in demand due to the decision by Spain," says Henning Wicht, a solar-power analyst at research group iSuppli.

Spain is providing important lessons for the U.S., where lawmakers are engaged in a debate about how to support renewable energy. Boosters of clean energy, including President Barack Obama, have pointed to Spain as a success story showing how government policies jump-started renewable energy, created new industries, and helped the environment.

Balance of article: The Wall Street Journal

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