Once upon a yesteryear, various European and Asian governments as well as the United States seemed so unequivocally convinced that all the expensive and taxpayer-funded “investments” they were making in new, market-resistant, and so-thought “green” technologies would help to them to ensure a cleaner and more “sustainable” future in which they were all less reliant on foreign fuels to fulfill their energy needs. The fruits of their many “investments,” unfortunately, have been found not merely environmentally wanting but financially unsustainable, to boot, as the economic consequences of higher electricity prices and crippling national debt burdens have reared their ugly heads. Completely unsurprisingly, the falloff in government “investment” (i.e., subsidization) has been mirrored by a falloff in private investment, via Bloomberg:
Clean-energy investment fell 14 percent in the third quarter from the prior three months as Europe curbed subsidies and cheaper U.S. natural gas lured investment.
The $45.9 billion spent makes it “almost certain” that annual investment in renewables and energy-smart technologies will fall for the second consecutive year from $281 billion in 2012, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a statement.
Investment in the quarter was 20 percent lower than the same period last year as spending in China, the U.S. and Europe fell. The U.S. saw the largest decline, sliding 41 percent to $5.5 billion, according to the London-based research company.
Europe’s clean-energy industry is retrenching after subsidies were reduced in nations from Germany to Spain, which helped propel record growth in previous years. Cheap gas in the U.S. driven by a shale-drilling boom and a reduction in China’s spending on wind power wind power also contributed to the overall decline, the London-based consultant said
One of the most facepalm-worthy parts of all of this is that supporters of the Obama administration’s regulatory war-on-coal largely and blithely rely on the argument that because the coal-substitute of natural gas has been doing so well, coal is naturally entering its sunset years anyway and will shortly fall prey to the economical powers of creative destruction — but strangely, they often forget to mention that coal could easily regain market share in the event that natural gas prices begin to rise for whatever reason The Obama administration is effectively barring that from happening on the domestic scene, while foreign demand for coal is growing; you need look no farther than Europe as a current Exhibit A for that eventuality. The editors of RealClearEnergy, therefore, would rather the Continent spare us the lectures, emphasis mine:
What happens when you don’t frack and you decide to shut down nuclear? You return to coal. That’s the lesson that Europe is learning these days. Despite all the brohaha about carbon emissions and global warming, Europe is marching straight back into the past by increasing its reliance on coal for electricity – and this in spite of a continent-wide recession and slumping demand. Germany is the worst example. It is actually building new coal plants even as it shuts down reactors and claims to be converting to wind and solar. Those “renewable” sources just aren’t there when you need them.
Germany is actually building the new coal plants of which it is suddenly and unexpectedly finding itself in need, and the Environmental Protection Agency just enacted a de facto ban on the same. Great.