Monday, May 10, 2010

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Subsidies

Huge and uneconomic solar power subsidies and recent revelations of fraud, on top of the European debt crisis finally forced Spain to see the light (ha!):
Spain is lancing an 18 billion-euro ($24 billion) investment bubble in solar energy that has boosted public liabilities, choking off new projects as it works to cut power prices and insulate itself from Greece’s debt crisis.

Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian is negotiating reductions in subsidies for solar plants that would curb energy costs, a ministry spokesman said this week. . .

Spain is battling on several fronts to revive its economy and convince government bondholders it can avoid getting dragged into a Greek-style debt spiral after Standard & Poor’s cut its credit rating April 28. Solar-plant owners including General Electric Co. earn about 12 times what’s paid for power from fossil fuels. Most of that is a subsidy charged to customers. . .

"This is necessary," said Leon Benelbas, chairman of Atlas Capital Close Brothers investment bank in Madrid. "It’s an excessive subsidy at a time Spain has to gain competitiveness, and the cost of energy is a determining factor."

Spain’s fixed-price system for renewable power, which attracted more investment in solar panels in 2008 than the rest of the world put together, boosts the state’s liabilities even though they don’t show up on its balance sheet.

That’s because the Spanish system delays payments by consumers for part of their electric bills for years. The government guarantees repayment to power suppliers such as Endesa SA and Gas Natural SDG SA. The cost of those unpaid bills rose last year by about 4 billion euros to 16 billion euros.

Spain intends to revise the clean-energy rates down "to avoid damaging the competitiveness of industry," Sebastian told the Spanish parliament yesterday.

Renewable-power generators will receive 6.3 billion euros in subsidies this year compared with 5 billion euros in 2009, and they may get more than 126 billion euros in subsidies over the next 25 years under the existing tariff regime, the Industry Ministry said in a report published by Expansion newspaper on its website today.

The fixed-price system has created a "bubble" in photovoltaic power because the government didn’t initially fix limits to the number of plants that could claim subsidized prices, the report said.
(via Washington Examiner)


OBloodyHell said...

The gummint solution isn't.

My, my.


MaxedOutMama said...

It's a real problem - the high energy rates are hurting industry.

Germany is discussing chopping its solar power subsidies also.