Monday, February 11, 2013

You Can't Eat Your Song and Dance Part 2


The developed world subsidizes farmers at the rate of $1 billion per day to grow crops, often resulting in excess food which is stored in warehouses. This creates a huge distortion on the international food markets, forcing many farmers in the developing world out of the market and into subsisting on foreign aid. It is a travesty that the developed world uses tax payer dollars to subsidize food production, preventing otherwise viable farm businesses throughout the developing world from surviving, and making them more dependent on international aid.
Dr. Richard Swanson - A Vision for Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells - February 2004 
"We'll have weaned ourselves off of subsidies. We will have arrived as an industry."

Dick Swanson Retiring From SunPower, But Not Done - October 2012
These are telling quotes from Dr. Swanson. In the first he points out how subsidies distort international food markets. In the second he relates the end to subsidies with the beginning of an industry. Here's a gem from another SunPower alum.
Whenever Washington disrupts a market by dumping subsidies into it, Wall Street will find a way to pocket a majority of the money while the intended subsidy beneficiaries are harmed by the resulting market turmoil.
T.J. Rodgers - Subsidizing Wallstreet to Buy Chinese Panels  - December 2011 
I like Swanson and Rodgers but it's impossible to reconcil these statements with all the subsidy whoring that Sunpower has done over the years. It's all talk, no walk. Between the Loan Guarantees and their TPO business they can hardly say they've been free-market champions. The subsdies SunPower has benefited from are the very sorts of subsidies that Swanson characterized as travesties - i.e. these solar subsidies undermine otherwise viable solar markets.

Winter is Coming

The industrious Ant knew to prepare for the days of necessity - the Grasshopper just wanted to sing and dance and bullshit. Remember what happened to the Grasshopper? He died.

Solar advocacy has traditionally been all about singing for supper. It's time for Plan W. No more singing and dancing and no more bullshit. The EPIA, BSW, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and all the SEAs should understand by now that solar doesn't need to sing for supper anymore. Solar has a better skill - generating competiviely priced electricity. Leave it alone and let it work.

Dear Solar Advocates,

Stop manufacturing bullshit whitepaper studies and public opinion polls 
Drop the whining about fossil fuel subsidies and carbon pricing
Roll over the competition with lower prices


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