Sunday, January 8, 2012

Solyndra Comes in Many Forms

The Solyndra boondoggle/bamboozle and its many associated headlines, essays written, and discussions there of, appears to many readers as special interests and crony capitalism through politico enablers specifically in the alternative energy business. Stated alternatively, the boondoggle is specific to alternative energy.

Solyndra is merely a public choice theory poster child example, not specific to alternative energy, rather a single example regarding the more general concept that: notional propositions are put forth as fact, the notional proposition being special interest associated, and the entire exercise resulting in crony capitalism enabled by politicos through the use of taxpayer dollars.

That is to say, Solyndra comes in many forms. A most excellent example of the “many forms” appeared in an essay entitled Solyndra on Rails, The Wall Street Journal, 01/05/2012. The essay, a Wall Street Journal editorial, pieces together the high speed rail proposition of linking San Francisco and Los Angeles to the Solyndra example. (1)

Both Solyndra [alternative energy, specifically solar] and high speed rail [passenger rail in non-high density population masses and passenger rail when consumer revealed preference is for anything but being a rail passenger] are notional propositions. That is, in both cases the proposition is merely notional with no supporting empirical evidence that the proposition is economical. However, the economy of the proposition is supplanted by notion of the proposition.

Note: notional propositions are but forth as fact, argued by verbal virtuosity, uses a debate stratagem of denying its opponents legitimacy, with the notional proposition merely based “on the way things ought to be”, ending with the notional proposition being no more than painting the world in one’s own self image.

In the California high speed rail case the initial cost has ballooned (as with many notional propositions):

“California Governor Jerry Brown has a big dream about a very expensive train—$98.5 billion to be precise, running from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Neither the ballooning cost of building it, nor growing public opposition, nor a string of negative expert assessments have cooled the Governor's ardor. So that leaves the California legislature to derail this boondoggle.” (2)

In a world of low debt and many taxpayer dollars available, the notional proposition of a high speed train may well have been pushed through by politico enablers. However, the current case is high debt and few taxpayer dollars available. Hence with few dollars available the notion has ran into evidence:

“The case for the bullet train was iffy from the start and is now beyond salvation. A withering report this week from a state-appointed panel ought to drive the last nail in. The California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, asked to judge the project, declared it "not financially feasible." It said the rail route's first leg, in the Central Valley between Merced and Bakersfield, would be especially noneconomic. And it asked the legislature not to approve Governor Brown's plans to issue the first $2.7 billion batch of bonds this month to start construction on the 520-mile network.

The panel blew up just about every assumption offered about California's answer to the French TGV. The current cost estimate, already triple what was sold to voters in 2008, will likely come in even higher. Federal, much less private, financing won't be forthcoming. Projections for passenger traffic and revenues are unrealistic. The state auditor, the inspector general, California's watchdog Legislative Analyst's Office, the U.S. House Transportation Committee, among others, arrived at similar conclusions.”

The crown jewel of this editorial/essay lies in the vision of the anointed. That given the evidence that the notional proposition is not feasible, the politico enabler, determined to follow through with painting the world in one’s own self image, is undeterred in using taxpayer dollars that most assuredly will complete the vision of the special interests and become profit for the associated crony capitalist:

“Governor Brown won't hear of such fiscal realities. His spokesman said the peer review study "does not appear to add any arguments that are new or compelling enough to suggest a change in course." “ (4)


(1) Solyndra on Rails, The Wall Street Journal, 01/05/2012,2652714,2653247

(2) ibid

(3) ibid

(4) ibid



  1. Electricity from solar and wind for power for the grid do not replace any conventional generating capacity. They might reduce slightly, at times, the amount of "fuel" used by the conventional power plants. With electricity, the supply MUST be fully available at the moment that a load is imposed by a user(s). Picking up the load a couple of seconds later does not work. A two-second shortfall on the grid can cause the grid to shut down. Solar and wind can fade out without warning. Solar does not produce at night. The capital investment for solar and wind is substantial and increases the cost of electricity.
    I do not oppose the use of alternative sources. But the technical truth must be told and understood. Conventional generating capacity must at all times be running at full speed (3600 RPM) sufficient to supply any load that is placed on the system- period.

  2. If charging stations for electric vehicles could be powered solely by solar and wind electricity, then that would be eliminating the need for some conventional generating capacity. But then availability of the vehicles would be dependent on the vagaries of the Sun and wind.