Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spanish Solar Subsidy Seduces FPL, Scorches Consumers

In the past I have talked about the German subsidies, First Solar insider trading profits and the carbon permit windfalls as as being built on the backs of German hausfraus. Now I have to add the Spanish ama de casa. From Bloomberg:
Spain has turned itself into the world’s biggest builder of solar-energy plants, attracting developers from the U.S. and France by guaranteeing prices that weigh down Spanish consumers.

The government promotes clean fuels by letting generators charge as much as 10 times more for power from the sun or wind than from burning coal. The premium, added to bills of homes and businesses, has spawned a solar-investment boom by utilities, from Florida’s FPL Group Inc. to Electricite de France SA.

As a result, developers now plan enough solar thermal projects to generate the power of nine new atomic reactors, or 14,000 megawatts if all get built, Spain’s industry ministry said. That’s the biggest project pipeline, beating sun-blessed Australia and the U.S., where Congress increased aid this year for alternative energy, an Emerging Energy Research study said.

“Who wouldn’t want to enter a business that’s paid many times more than the market rate, and where the customer is guaranteed for life?” said Gabriel Calzada, an economist and professor at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

Spanish law forces distributors to buy all clean energy produced in the first 25 years of a plant’s life and resell it to consumers. With little oil and lots of sun, Spain is betting the sacrifice will pay off as fossil fuels get more expensive and need costly emission permits under global-warming treaties.

Forty-two percent of power bills, or 95 euros ($127) for every Spaniard, will cover subsidized clean energy in 2009, the ministry estimates....MORE