By John O’Sullivan
Governments, investors and even the World Bank are rushing for the exits in the Great Escape from the green energy bubble.
Solar energy appears to be the worst affected sector so far. Dow Jones reports on a startling U-turn by Britain’s ultra-green government has caught investors off guard and shock waves across the markets will likely precipitate the further rush from green energy projects to shale gas.
The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change made the shock announcement as it revealed a comprehensive review of its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program. Indications from data provider, Prequin are that over $1bn in earmarked funds may be lost as Britain now promises it will only hold tariffs until April 2012.
Green Investors Feeling Betrayed by European Governments
Britain’s decision is another nail in the coffin for Europe’s tottering green energy market. Last year the first of several crushing body blows was dealt to environmentalist dreams when the Spanish government retrospectively cut the value of its tariffs in its own U-turning energy review.
The devastated Spanish Solar Photovoltaic Industry Association, with mass bankruptcies on the cards, is accusing their government of utter betrayal is yet to carry out a threat to sue over the ruling.
As the green house of cards collapses Netherlands-based investment manager DIF and BNP Paribas and venture capitalists such as Future Capital Partners are rumored to be extremely fearful of further repercussions coming at a time when European public opinion is bored and fatigued after two decades of endless global warming hype.
UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry made the starkly ominous admission, “one third of Britons think the science on climate change has been exaggerated.”
Not helping the green cause has been a succession of brutally cold Northern hemispheric winters which an increasing number of scientists fear may be the harbinger of the onset of a mini-ice age.
Abundance of Shale Gas Deflates Green Energy Bubble
Causing green lobbyists and environmentally focused investors to cry bitter into their carrot juice comes the news that China is making its move to become pre-eminent in shale gas investment.
Peter Foster in the Financial Post (February 11, 2011) reports that energy company Encana is to get a proposed $5.4-billion investment by PetroChina in its shale gas operations. The move he says “confirms the soaring importance of a resource that 10 years ago was hardly on the commercial map.”
The market obviously liked the news of the Chinese investment as Encana shares jumped 4.5% to close at $32.02.
Savvy shale gas investors are also looking most eagerly at Canada where the discovery that Quebec has considerable shale gas potential has dealt another blow to the idea that the world’s energy resources are anywhere near a so-called “peak.”
A strident Quebec Oil and Gas Association has hired former Parti Quebecois premier Lucien Bouchard to help lobby for provincial development to exploit the unexpected huge find.
With so many known large deposits of shale gas in countries such as Poland, Germany, France and the U.K. economic strategists are finally waking up to the fact that this monumental new resources could help free Europe from the threat of disruptions from its main natural gas supplier, Russia.
Andrew Orlowski reporting for ‘The Register’ (February 10, 2011) reveals Holland has also joined the rush away from green by becoming the first country to abandon the EU-wide target of producing 20 per cent of its domestic power from renewables. The Dutch are now putting their long-term faith in nuclear. Netherland’s only nuclear reactor, the Borssele plant, scheduled for closure by 2003 is now planned to operate at least until 2034.
World Bank Joins Rush Away from the Green White Elephant
Top line international bankers also appear to be abandoning ‘big green’ according to a report by climate scientist Roger Pielke Jr. who highlights two recent research papers published by influential thinkers inside the World Bank.
Economics papers by Robert Mendelsohn and Gokay Saher (here in PDF) and Medelsohn, Kerry Emanuel and Shun Chonabayashi (here in PDF) chop the legs from under the pro-green Stern Review (2007) and affirm that no human impact may be inferred on global climate.
With economists plainly joining an increasing number of scientists in global warming skepticism its little wonder there’s now a mass flight away from ‘renewables;’ such that both investors and governments are compelled to follow suit in the clearest indication yet that green energy won’t live up to its promises.
The key to long-term economic success now appears to be safely premised once again on solid market innovation, not ideologically driven government subsidies; such subsidized ventures have a long and notorious history as lame duck enterprises. It seems ‘green renewables’ has become the latest of these white elephants.
Source: John O’Sullivan