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TMFFlushDraw (61.46)

The Chinese are Smarter Than We Are

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November 08, 2010 – Comments (5) | RELATED TICKERS: FSLR , YGE , ESLRQ.DL

A Rant About Energy, Bear With Me 

As a follower of renewable energy, wind and solar in particular I was disheartened reading the NY Times article this morning titled "Cost of Green Power Makes Projects Tougher Sell". In essence it outlined regulators nixing renewable projects because the cost of energy would be higher than what users currently pay, and with falling demand we don't really need new sources of energy. 

This is all at least somewhat true but it outlines our shortsightedness with relation to our energy future. We currently rely on coal primarily for electricity augmented by natural gas (I'm simplifying but go with me) but as our energy infrastructure gets older we have the choice of building natural gas plants, nukes or renewables.

To me this is an absolute no brainer. Renewables provide a safe, clean source of energy at a fixed cost. No relying on low natural gas prices, no wondering where nuclear waste is going, there's virtually no risk. Add to that the rapidly falling cost of solar (in particular) and you could be subsidizing an industry into energy domination over the next five years. First Solar thinks it can reach grid parity in some areas in the next few years and Yingli and Trina solar are right on First Solar's heals. 

China has this figured out. Who do you think China is driving the solar and wind markets right now? It would be stupid for them to build more coal plants and gas plants, they should build renewables for their own safety and future. Can you imagine the impact on China's economy if coal/oil/natural gas prices doubled?

Maybe we just have a short term memory. After all it was a long time ago when oil was $160/barrel and we were wondering why we didn't have a national energy plan. Now that we have an administration that wants to have a plan it is getting stonewalled by congress and big energy. I'm not an advocate of cap/trade or an energy tax. But I am an advocate of SOMETHING. Republicans have a lot to prove to me on this front and I will give them every chance to do it. But if the chant Drill Baby Drill comes up in congress again before we figure out a way to make wind and solar viable in this country (short term, before they stand on their own) I'm going to puke.  

And this added cost the NY Times reported was the reason for not approving the wind plant. Take a guess, must be ten bucks a customer right?

0.2%!!! That's it. Each ratepayer's bill would go up 0.2%!!!

I would much rather see another hole drilled in the middle of the ocean or a strip mine than pay an extra $0.10 on my next electric bill. That's outrageous!!

China is smarter than anyone realizes by building as much solar and wind as they can. It will help their energy future and only help to solidify China's growing economic importance. I wish we had the same foresight to spend a minuscule amount of money on wind/solar instead of wasting it on (I'll let you fill in the blanks with whatever you think is wasteful, I'm thinking war). 

Until then keep your money invested in Chinese renewable growth. My picks are AMSC (wind), ESLR (solar our sourcing to China) and YGE (solar).  

Rant complete. It felt good to get that out. I'm going to go walk across the street hug a tree.  

TMFFlushDraw 

PS. What do you think? Are the Chinese crazy like a fox?  

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 08, 2010 at 1:38 PM, BillyTG (29.29) wrote:

Yes, they are smarter.  Americans are fickle and can't see past the weekend.  Our citizenry has gotten fat, literally and figuratively, from cheap gas and food, and easy living.  That is irreversible without a major economic crash to reset the national psychology.  China thinks trans-generationally.  They wrote The Art of War, which applies as much in economics as it does in warfare.  When all is said and done, I think China will own us.

Plus, it helps to have a single-party government that can laser-in on key issues and move entire populations of people.  And, actually, China is as much a capitalist economy as present-day USA, in my opinion.  I much prefer my dwindling American freedoms to the crackdown China puts on its people, but we are definitely going down the wrong road, and China is making the right moves. 

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#2) On November 08, 2010 at 1:53 PM, leohaas (31.15) wrote:

In this respect, they are infinitely smarter than we are.

You know what we keep on doing? We keep on importing energy by the boatloads (literally) from countries where they hate our guts. Results:
 1) Those countries get richer, at least some of that money gets into the hands of terrorists
 2) We need to "protect" those resources and send our troops out there to do so, which is why they hate us even more. This "thinking" got us Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Lybia, and so on.

If we have half a brain, we ditch oil imports. We stop financing those who hate us, we withdraw our armies from the middle east, and maybe in two generations from now the folks overthere hate us a little bit less (just enough to avoid strapping a bomb to their bodies and blowing themselves up is good enough to end terrorism against us).

The Chinese get that. We don't.

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#3) On November 08, 2010 at 2:06 PM, Melaschasm (53.35) wrote:

I am not sure where you get the 'couple cents' cost of solar/wind, but a local project was about to be approved when the people found out that they would be paying almost twice as much for electricity than their neighbors if they allowed the wind farm to be built.  As you might imagine there was a sudden strong objection to this wind farm.

The costs are very different for a country that needs to rapidly increase energy production, and which faces transportation issues, making traditional fuels more expensive to use in many parts of the nation.

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#4) On November 08, 2010 at 2:15 PM, BillyTG (29.29) wrote:

+1 to leohaas.  It's a crazy situation, and that's exactly the scenario---the US has militarized oil consumption. 

The problem is that if we were to withdraw completely from the Middle East and abruptly drop our reliance on imported energy, the economy would come to a screeching halt (which is why we have militarized the situation). The entire US economy, and much of the rest of the world, NEEDS oil. No oil, no economy.

That said, China has its own problems in Africa, where it is trying to create its own little oil monopoly empire.  Charles Hugh Smith says it's expected that some of those African regions will revolt in the next few years and China will be powerless to do anything about it (but at least they are smart enough to pursue prudent options as TMFFlushDraw noted, whereas we are primarily relying on our total manipulation of the dollar, and our enormous military might, both of which will likely lead us into a world war) :

China is busy buying up Africa, which carries a number of ironies that have yet to unfold. To buy up other nations' assets is the essence of Neoliberal Global Capitalism, and in playing within that system China is now vulnerable to the same nationalist and revolutionary forces as those opposing U.S. domination.

The other irony is the "revolutionary" forces which I fully expect to take power in many African nations by 2015 will expropriate Chinese properties just as they will expropriate any other colonial powers' "property." And the Chinese will be powerless to reverse those expropriations; they possess neither the hard power to conquer and re-install pliant kleptocracies nor the soft power to do so by other means.

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#5) On November 08, 2010 at 3:45 PM, starbucks4ever (97.97) wrote:

They are stupider than we are. Why build solar now when prices are dropping? We'll wait another 5 years and then get all the same things at half the price.

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