Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Midsummer Night’s and Father's Day Dream




We are almost reaching the zenith of the sun’s highest arc in the northern hemisphere and we are still dreaming of greener pastures.  Who knows what dreams will be started or ended in the coming week?   This weekend the Greeks vote and their dreams are just to survive not to drown in a sea of debt.  The dream of a European Union seems to be turning into a nightmare.  The dream of millions of green jobs in the developed economies has certainly ended without much success.   The dream of the Arab spring of a year ago is fading rapidly into civil wars and overturned elections by the hands of the military.  The dream of economic growth in the OECD has all but evaporated.  

For A 123, Ener 1, Valence, and the US DOE it was a short dream of competitive lithium ion batteries produced in the USA.  For First Solar it was also an abruptly ended dream when their Cadmium Telluride PV technology got stomped on by cheap and probably government subsidized Chinese silicon based cells.  First Solar had enjoyed the position of lowest cost manufacturer of PV cells till about a year ago and then they simply hit a wall in being able to reduce production costs.   The Chinese simply give away their silicon cells at or below cash production costs.

I do believe the President did start out in 2009 with an honest yet naïve dream that he could successfully steer the US away from fossil fuels and could create a couple million jobs in the new green industries.  The President never did study thermodynamics and he selected a Secretary of Energy who certainly did.  What the President did not know was that his choice for Energy Secretary would end as it did as a nightmare with tens of billions of dollars hopelessly spent on failed companies and technologies. 

Thermodynamics is not based on dreams, it is basically the force in the universe that limits the free ride.  I have oft blogged that I told the US Senate almost three years ago that thermodynamics would constrain the adoption of the electric vehicle.  Perhaps the Green Machine should have gone right to the top and rather should have written to the President and informed him of the pitfalls of funding A 123, Fisker, Tesla, Ener 1, and others.   

To be fair to the President, his predecessor also gave away billions of wasted dollars for the hydrogen and ethanol economies.  To be fair to Chu Chu he is no worse than Sam The Sham Bodman another PhD (chemical engineering) who forgot his sophomore year studies of Kelvin, Carnot and Gibbs.   Chu Chu is just a thoroughly incompetent manager and was completely clueless of the global competition that cleaned our collective clock.
Now as we move forward and want we need competence and we need a transparent and thermodynamically honest energy policy.   President Obama must stop blaming his failure on what he inherited.  If he prevails in the election he has to find a new and highly competent Energy Secretary.  If he fails to win reelection, his opponent better select an Energy Secretary who is both knowledgeable but also more importantly a highly competent manager who is aware of the global competitive landscape.

On this Father’s Day in mid-summer, I do dream that my child and her yet to be born children will have a life as nice as I have enjoyed, and that she will not be relegated to living in a minor province of China.  We cannot afford misguided energy policy any longer!!

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