A burning Chevy Volt lighting up the landscape illustrates some of the dificulties in achieving an all-green sustainable lifestyle. The path of development has never run smoothly and that is why pioneers get used to scoffers pointing out design flaws.
Creating a green economy with green technology is not all that different from the creation of a digital economy in the years following the Second World War.
Early digital computers were inefficient and unreliable like today's wind generators and all-electric vehicles. They were the butt of many jokes just like today's efforts at capturing wind energy and all-electric transportation.
I was involved in the commercial development of several generations of early digital computers and I know that government support was instrumental in the very early days of computer development. As I recall, however, there was no big push on the part of the government to get us to discard our calculators and pencil and paper. Computers took over the workplace and the homefront when they became MORE CONVENIENT than the alternatives.
I feel there will be a place for wind generators and all electric vehicles when they become MORE CONVENIENT AND COMPETITIVE than our current generators and vehicles. This may only occur in specialized sitations, but I feel we will see working installations with excellent customer satisfaction eventually. Right now, we see too many failures like this:
The efforts of our current administration to shove untested ideas down our throats will only result in discrediting their motives. The unfortunate examples of crony capitalism like Solyndra, General Moters, and these later failures:
Evergreen Energy-Which has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, saying it’s "impossible to maintain operations" due to funding shortfalls. This announcement comes after the company received $5.3 million in "stimulus" funds.
Abound Solar Manufcturing of Longmount, Colorado received a $400 million federal loan and laid off 70% of its workforce in March, 2012.
Amonix Inc.-A manufacturer of solar panels that received $5.9 million from the "stimulus", will lay off about 200 employees only seven months after opening a factory in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home State of Nevada.
Beacon Power Corp-Sought bankruptcy protection last year after they received a $43 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
Ener1 Electric-A car battery manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy last Thursday, three years after receiving a $118.5 million grant from the U.S. government.
The nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste counts nearly 20 energy companies that have gotten federal loan guarantees or grants that have run into financial trouble ranging from layoffs to losses to bankruptcies. An outside consultant hired by the White House said the Energy Department's loan pool includes $2.7 billion in potentially risky loans and suggests the agency hire a "chief risk officer" to help minimize problems.
To watchdogs, the pattern of firms awarding bonuses only to file for bankruptcy raises questions about how well the Energy Department chose its winners, and how thoroughly it kept an eye on them once selected.
If we are going to see a green economy, perhaps we should see more open and competitive bidding.