The influx of giant technology companies into North Carolina to build artificially “green and clean” data centers, which they say are powered by their nearby solar farms, has led to a revelation that discredits their claims.
The stunning admission: that electricity derived from solar sources is thoroughly unreliable.
The information was unearthed in a report last week by Carolina Journal, a publication of the conservative John Locke Foundation. In a filing with the state’s Utilities Commission, a solar company affiliated with Google reported that the trustworthiness of the energy produced by its proposed facility would be non-existent.
A foreign renewable energy company, that U.S. taxpayers hold a major stake in via the Department of Energy Loan Program Office, is imperiled by massive debt and has begun the process of negotiating with its creditors as a prelude to possible bankruptcy.
The company is Abengoa, based in Spain, which reportedly holds 887 subsidiaries around the world. Reuters reported at the end of last month that investors declined to provide needed capital for the firm, which led to what is called, under Spanish law, “pre-insolvency proceedings.” That entails a four-month attempt to alleviate debt burdens. If that falls short, then formal bankruptcy proceedings would likely follow, which would be Spain’s largest in history. Effects would ripple globally.
Giant technology companies who deliver much of their services via “cloud” computing – such as Apple, Google, and Facebook – have claimed for years that they generate the massive amounts of electricity they need from renewable sources, despite their obvious dependence on fossil fuels.
For example, Apple has said it has “achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers,” but as NLPC has reported and an investigation by liberal Web site Truthout.org confirmed, Apple does not power its servers with “green” alternative energy. Instead – as in the case with its western North Carolina facility – Apple sells the power from the solar farms and fuel cells it owns in NC to utility Duke Energy, and also buys renewable energy certificates (or “indulgences”) to “offset” the carbon dioxide emissions its electricity produces.
So he went about trying to fix things on CNBC and with the Times on Monday, but not by denying the conclusions reached by reporter Jerry Hirsch, but instead by essentially pointing at fossil fuel industries and saying “they do it more.”
The total amount calculated by reporter Jerry Hirsch for taxpayer-backed incentives – of many different forms, including tax credits and rebates provided to customers – was $4.9 billion. The corporate beneficiaries have been Tesla Motors and SpaceX, where Musk is CEO, and SolarCity Corp., where he is chairman. The sum does not include SpaceX’s contracts with the government to carry out programs for NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
Meanwhile two weeks ago the Cupertino, Calif.-based computing giant boasted far and wide that it was joining with the Conservation Fund to “protect” a “working forest” in Brunswick Co., N.C., which is on the state’s southeastern coast. So Apple asserts that it reduces pollution produced by fossil fuels, while conserving timber for future generations. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if it was true? Instead it’s more of what the environmental left likes to call “greenwashing.”
The company’s Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl in 2009 had boasted to Reuters that he expected “within a few years” that his people would be able to demonstrate technology that produced renewable energy cheaper than coal.
In a sudden, unexpected burst of concern about how mandates of renewable energy harm its low-income customers, a Duke Energy executive testified Tuesday that aspects of the government-imposed schemes (mostly welcomed by public utilities) cost far more than they save, and said they are net job losers.
The admission, by Duke’s president for North Carolina (the company’s home state), came during a hearing of a state legislative commission on energy. The specific policy targeted by Paul Newton was the practice of net metering, in which individual homeowners who have installed solar panels are able to sell their electricity to a utility’s grid at the same full kilowatt-hour price that it is delivered to them from the grid.
Last week’s punishment/settlement between the Department of Justice and Duke Energy over bird deaths caused by its wind turbines gives evidence that the Obama administration needed a scapegoat, to defuse accusations that it applies a double-standard in enforcement of wildlife laws.
The Friday before Thanksgiving both parties announced that Duke would pay $1 million for the deaths of more than 160 birds that are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The incidents occurred over the last four years at two Wyoming sites operated by the utility’s Duke Energy Renewables subsidiary.