What's wrong with government subsidies?

04/11/2013 01:11

[a critical look at the German alternative energy market]

To put it in a nutshell, 'government subsidies are never fair and often favour highly regulated big industrial solutions with the monetary benefits only available to a few'.

 Now, why is that? 

Government subsidies are a political instrument, that takes the taxpayers money to help to create or sustain an economic venture which would otherwise not happen or falter, and are often used as a 'stimulus' in order to speed up a government promoted development. Unfortunately however, this seemingly positive idea goes constantly wrong in reality.

- Diesel fuel tax exemption, has lead to a majority of drivers in the UK switching to a diesel engine, while diesel fuel today (no longer exempt) is more expensive than ordinary petrol.

- Bio-fuel subsidies, introduced in Germany by government decree, have led to agricultural single crop wastelands  and rising food prices because of the higher profit margins.

But what I am more aware and critical about, is the European and specifically the German alternative energy market.

Here a vast effort was undertaken, to become a world leader in the modern technology of creating green  energy using wind generators or solar panels.

But! equipment prices where high and the energy yield very low, creating very little incentive for big investors to move. Government regulated feed in tariffs and green energy purchase guarantees, combined with low interest loans, tax breaks and investment subsidies, have since led to such an enormous boom, that Germany is currently suffering some of the weirdest side effects at an enormous cost to the state, i.e. the taxpayer and consumer.

One of the these side effects is the concentration of wind- or solar energy creating plants, often in the hand of one single investor, in locations that do not have sufficient need for such vast resources, or not the infrastructure to distribute the energy out of the area.

 As a result, the entire grid is in need of an urgent upgrade, whilst the now necessary construction of new energy highways is constantly being blockaded by opposing eco activists, who don't want to yield even a single tree.

In the mean time Germany has introduced an intelligent metering system for all feeds above 5kW/h by decree, which intelligently attempts to level the production capacities and consumption needs. In practice this means that active feeds can be remotely switched off, while the guaranteed feed in tariffs are still being paid.

To cover all these additional expenses, a special levy has been created, which forms part of every electricity bill with the exception of the biggest consumers (like aluminium producing factories), who are exempt from this constantly increasing levy.

Of course many people benefit from all this, like the industry - by getting contracts and creating new jobs. Like the planet and ecology as a hole, or the small to medium size investors - who can hope to receive a small profit.

But the real profit is made by the big funds and corporate investors, who wouldn't have touched this with a barge pole if ever, if their profit [on the investment] had not been guaranteed.

Those who do not benefit directly, other than in a feel good sense if ever, are the vast majority of the people.

Those who don't own a house to put solar panels on, or are only renting, those who live in apartments and flats, are too old to qualify for the often 20 year contracts, or people who simply don't have the money for such an investment.

For all those the only tangible side effect is, that energy becomes increasingly more expensive, up to the point where it becomes a dreaded luxury. Necessary! because we just can't do without it.

SoLenium technology - I want to help finding new concepts and alternative ideas to this madness. So if you are interested,  'read on!'