An excellent article written by a recent Stanford graduate who went to work for a company that manufactured solar panels:
In 2008 I completed my Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford and took a “Green Job” with a solar company. Excitingly, it seemed to match the green rhetoric–to have potential to create the incredible value of cleaner, cheaper energy.
Unfortunately, the more I learned about my job and industry, the more I realized they were fundamentally flawed.
Management said we would be competitive with oil and gas once we manufactured panels for $1.00/watt. But as a mechanical engineer, I learned most of solar’s cost is not panels themselves but “balance of system” (BOS) components like DC to AC converters, wiring, and structural mounting, adding about $3.00/watt for a best-case total of $4.00/watt. Coal and hydroelectric systems cost as low as $2.10/watt and $1.00/watt, respectively. I found no evidence that solar’s BOS costs would decrease meaningfully.
Nor did anyone have a solution to the problem that has plagued solar and wind energy since their inception: intermittency. Solar and wind energy come intermittently, with no means to store it for later use that wouldn’t add considerably to their already-high cost. Thus, the idea of a large scale solar and wind economy is farcical.
This story has a happy ending for the woman in question, but not her company:
My relief came with financial hardship for my company and the following round of layoffs, as I was happily let go. I finally had time to find a real job, and now have a wonderful, rewarding one in a legitimate industry with a culture of productivity and achievement. It is a world of difference.
Real wealth and jobs are not produced by means of subsidies extracted by force from helpless victims by the Obama administration, but by rational free people acting under their own initiative. The sooner the government stops forcing green jobs on us, the sooner the rest of America’s wasted green workforce can join me in getting real jobs.