Shorting The Sun

Solyndra was a solar start-up that developed a state of the art, gold standard technological advantage over its rivals.

This was a game changing innovation that included solar panel design changes (that allowed for cheaper installation and maintenance) as well as raw material differences that brought down the cost of the product significantly at a time when silicon (the lead ingredient in solar panels) was selling for nearly $1000 per pound.

Every single person that looked at the technology could see that this was head and shoulders superior to the existing technology. It was and remains a good bet.

Several unforeseeable market forces came together in a perfect storm to drive it into bankruptcy. But had Solyndra been able to raise new financing, it would have survived, and would have thrived.

It can still license its technology out to existing players and make significant returns over time. Very, very smart people backed this venture, including major venture capital funds, private investors and big energy players.

It is a shame that the politics of green energy have conspired to bring down what should have been a great American success stroy. This company was killed by US Republicans as much as by market forces. In a simple analysis, massively flush Chinese firms using near-zero interest loans from government backed banks, flooded the market with cheaper, lower quality panels that were the result of hugely scaled up factories financed by government mandated loans.

This is basically a Chinese victory over America. They committed to financing a struggling, yet viable industry.

Lost in the debate is the fact that American innovation and technological advances were sacrificed by short-sighted politicians looking for cheap polical gain. That is what is killing the US in its competition against China.

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19 Responses to Shorting The Sun

  1. Johnny Gray says:

    I’m going to lose it!

    If I hear Mitt Romney say, one more time, “This president is a nice enough guy. But he’s clearly in over his head.” I’m going to snap.

    The only thing Mitt Romney seems comfortable doing is running away from things, like RomneyCare as an accomplishment, or Gay Marriage as something we can all reflect-on as a step toward equality, or exploring solar energy for the benefit of creating jobs and sound policy.

    Wish there were more conversations like this, where the merits of Solyndra could be debated, and understood, instead of reduced to over-simplified sound bites.

  2. Edwardo Ross says:

    A really angry person commented to me:

    “Doesn’t matter if they could turn coal into gold; I don’t want my tax dollars put in the hands of a bureaucrat with “cronyist” intentions directing money to those aligned with his political philosophy. Not only does this perpetuate the party in power, it is unfair to others competing in the same industry. It reeks of favoratism not capitalism.”

    I thought:
    If they could turn coal into gold, I think it would matter!!!
    But more to the point–it seems rather silly to discuss bureaucrats and cronyists. It is inconsequential what you want or don’t want. That is simply how the world works. At some point you have to open your eyes to the real world, starting with the water systems that make possible your morning shower, the electrical grids that allow your morning coffee, and the roads that you drive every day, your tax dollars are spent in the advancement of our society on almost every level. And it was more than likely that there were bureaucrats and cronyists in the equation! The government has supported all sorts of technological advances, in every field from national security to new energy to national health and vaccine programs. Certainly, not all of these efforts have proved commercially successful, but they were nonetheless necessary for the US to arrive at the dominant economic position it is in today. If we focus on the failures and find them instructive only for the purpose of not approving new ventures, or holding steadfast to some moral, narrow ideal of “capitalism,” then we are destined for paralysis and decay. Political philosophy turns the world. Many politicians bemoaned the expenditures of the US space program as wasteful and unnecessary. Likewise, there was much political debate over the civilian nuclear energy program, as well as funding of the military industrial complex. But we pressed forward–with many more winners than losers. I agree that cronyism is wrong, especially when it ends in spectacular failure (ie. Katrina–FEMA–Brownie), but it was simply not the driving factor in the Solyndra decision. The technology involved was a spectacular American advancement. Take a moment to read about Solyndra and their cylindrical panel innovation. It was for a collective good, “the general welfare”–as the Preamble to the Constitution mandates. Energy is an industry with massive barriers to entry. Almost every government on the planet subsidizes it in one way or another. And the competition is fierce. This is exactly where the US government should be providing loan guarantees–on winning technologies.

    • Annie H. says:

      Right now, on the cover of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com) there is a story about Solyndra. They should have changed the name from Solyndra to Social-ysm.

      “General Welfare State” is more like the goal of this Saul Alinsky Radical who has spent 4-years bringing down a title we used to say with reverence: “Mister President.”

      God willing, Governor Romeny will show the left how the right does it in November. Governor Romney was destined to become President Romney. It’s the 2012 version of Manifest Destiny.

      This is what happens when you have the help running the Oval Office instead of cleaning it up. Keep looking to the sun for answers, Mister Ross. You’re clearly blinded by the light.

  3. Gerald Kennedy says:

    I would love to understand more about Solyndra. Especially on a week when facebook turned all of the investment world on its head. How do we understand this? How do we process the news? It’s certainly complex. But I would enjoy a complex explanation, for a change. I have a lot of hope for the election in November. I think we have two very smart men, for a change. It will be interesting to see how they paint the picture with words of where they plan to take the country. I remember when everyone told me there was essentially no difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Turns out, there couldn’t have been a starker contrast. I hope people pay attention this November. I think it’s going to be incredibly illuminating about who lives in this country and what they think about the future. This was an interesting conversation. Thank you for getting it started!

  4. Edwardo Ross says:

    Dearest Annie:

    As I read your response, I was mildly impressed by your reference to the Wall Street Journal article. Your “General Welfare State” and Saul Alinsky references were reminiscent of the Republican primary debates. Your “God willing, Governor Romney will show the left…” cheerleading slogan was amusing, and a perfect match for the “…Manifest Destiny” bit– fit for a bumper sticker. Your singlemindedness was so perfectly packaged, all the way up to the mildly racist reference to “…the help running the Oval Office…” Just perfect. All that was missing, sadly, was a single original thought, or illuminating idea, or insightful syllable added to the discussion. Thanks for dropping by.

  5. Edwardo Ross says:

    Dear Mr. Kennedy:

    For further understanding of the Solyndra story, please take moment to search the backstory on Google. There are several in-depth articles detailing the history of the company, it’s products, the investor class as well as the particular business environment over the last two years that proved too stormy for this once-promising venture. The LA Times as well as the Christian Science Monitor did excellent jobs of providing facts and insight into this remarkable American story, whilst steering clear of the political wind shear surrounding the subject. Enjoy.

    • Annie H. says:

      “Whilst?” Your choice of words seems more about convincing the audience you’re smart than a genuine reflection of understanding.

      You can read The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor and LA Times, but moving your eyes from left to right doesn’t raise your IQ.

      Your perception of me is typical of the left. You think we have a simple-minded world view, when in fact, it takes more skill to simplify than it does to shroud yourself in complexity. Mister Obama is clearly a highly educated man. Unfortunately, his inexperience has crippled the economic recovery. That’s a fact.

      You can call it “cheerleading” all you want. But that’s part of how we’re always able to beat the left. You whine. We show-up. 2008 was a fluke!

      By the way, there’s nothing like a fluke to expose your weaknesses. Unlike the left, we learn from our mistakes because we don’t go through life expecting things. We always end-up on top due to hard work. Always!

      While you’re running around blaming America, we create the future for ourselves by living-up to the ideal of American Exceptionalism.

  6. Babs says:

    The bottom line is people like Anne have but one agenda and that is to get the Black man out of the White House!

    • Annie H. says:

      Yes. We’re actually the same, Babs. You voted for Obama because he’s black. I’m voting against Obama because he’s black. I’m allowed. So are you. I believe in freedom enough to let you abuse the vote.

  7. ROY says:

    Economy down. Unemployment up. Solyndra speculation a disaster. Syria derailing into genocide. Supreme Court about to uphold the constitution by overturning ObamaCare. If I were to give a grade, I’d say President Obama gets a solid F+. In case anyone wonders how affirmative action ends, here’s the result.

    Oh, and if John Edwards had won in Iowa, can you imagine what a nighmare it would have been for the American People? I don’t know why The Left refuses to grow-up. You can’t save everyone. Try taking care of yourself first. Sheesh!

  8. Johnny Gray says:

    June 1st: “Global Gloom” on the cover of NYTimes.com. Before 10AM, The Dow dropped 204.12.

    Congress has done everything possible to sustain a bleak economy. Winning is the most important thing when you get paid no matter which party holds the majority hostage with the fucking filibuster. By the way, they should change the name to the fucking filibuster, to better reflect the sentiment of the gesture.

    I say this…

    Take away their pensions. We’re not going to get Social Security, so why should our elected representatives. Take away their cushy salaries. They should earn minimum wage, and be forced to live on it, while they’re “working” in Washington DC (it’s not a career, it’s a job, bitches). Most important of all, take away their health care, on the same day The Supreme Court overturns The Affordable Care Act.

    We don’t have a Supreme Court anymore in America. We have Supreme Rulers, just like Iran. So let’s stop pretending we’re better. Or more reasonable. Or adult enough to have the world largest stockpile of WMD’s.

    As for President Obama, it’s not in the bag. If he wants a 2nd term, he has to win. I’ll listen to Governor Romney. Just because I lean one way doesn’t mean I can’t be won over. I’m not a white knuckle idiot. That said, I’m plenty dumb.

  9. vince says:

    Seems like everyone is passionate about something. At least Anne admits to hating blacks. Obama came into office and I expected Single Payer, Guantanamo ended, wars ended, Bankers in jail, prosecution of Bush, Cheyne and Rumsfeld, tax the rich at 40%, make corporations pay taxes, end the off-shore loopholes, equality for all to marry etc. I got nothing.

    Obama made more war, Wall Street is seeing record profits, bankers are drunk on wealth, wars have escalated, Guantanamo is strong, drone strikes are now OK in the USA, no one was held accountable for anything, Obama care is a giveaway to big insurance, taxes for the wealthy are down, etc.

    Why don’t the Republicans love Obama? Like Anne says, he’s a nigger.

    • Annie H. says:

      Just because I don’t say it, doesn’t mean I’m not thinking it. So are all of you! I want to admire my president. What’s wrong with that? The past two presidents given to us by the left are best described as “The Food Stamp President” and “Slick Willie.”

      Obama won the election because he was black. Clinton was successful with the economy because he was forced to adopt the financial policies of Newt Gingrich.

      For half a second, I considered voting for John Edwards. He seemed to represent everything you could want in a man, with a wife who battled cancer with the grace of an angel. I thought they would lift the country up. Well, this week, we saw how that fairy tale ended. That’s it for me. I will NEVER fall for the lies of the left.

      I happen to agree with everything on Vince’s list. So I wonder if other people are honest enough to admit President Obama has done nothing since the day after he won. The only thing he really accomplished was winning the election and proving America isn’t as racist as everyone always bemoaned.

      But starting with the day of his inauguration, when he couldn’t even get the oath of office right, it’s been one broken promise after another. What’s it going to take for the left to wake up? Put down the Hopium Pipe, Y’all.

    • Steven says:

      To be fair to Obama , he said he was not going to prosecute Bush, Wall Street gave enormous amounts of money to Obama, his foreign policy adviser was Zbigniew Brzezinski, he basically inferred he was going to leave Bush defense Secretary Bill Gates in place, that would be like after hitler they left Goobels in place. Obama said he was going to surge in Afghanistan, Ok he did say he was going to close guantanomo. Point is he pretty much has done what would of been expected, just people only heard what they wanted. he was a canvas where all our hopes were painted on. That’s why he use hope so much, it has no real meaning. Whatever you hoped he would deliver. Its like a really pretty girl, you tend to ignore the bad parts.Also, Republicans hate Obama cause he is a democrat, even though he has pretty much done close to what Bush would have done in his third term. They love Clearence Thomas, if Condoleeza Rice was running they would back her. I will be voting for Obama because Romney I cant even bear to look at.

      • Vince says:

        Thanks, Steve, for setting up my point. Obama is being called the most liberal leftist ever. He’s just not. He didn’t do one left agenda. He’s right of Dubya on many things. Yet the republicans hate him for “being soooo liberal.” They hate him because he’s black. He one of them. They don’t like him. So now he has to come back to the Libs to get re-elected. Funny actually.

        • Johnny Gray says:

          So funny it’s sad. The Right hates Obama because he got everything they wanted accomplished, but not fast enough, or at the expense of enough people. Hopefully, this week, The Supreme Rulers will overturn ObamaCare (a cruel re-naming of The Affordable Care Act, which is nothing more than a give-away to the insurance companies). They want to keep us chasing our tails, not solving problems, like re-fining The Affordable Care Act, the way FDR refined The New Deal. They want us shooting each other at Safeways, murdering doctors to protect the unborn (pure irony, if you’re Pro-Life), and looking the other way as bankers get away with tax dollars in a highway robbery that would make Bonnie & Clyde say, “Holy Shit, those Fuckers are dangerous. They’re getting away with stealing the future!”

  10. Babs says:

    Watch the Oath of Office. He got it correct, Justice Roberts got it wrong! Anne, there is no hope for you! Talking points, bigoted person!

  11. Andy says:

    Don’t believe Anne is real. An obvious plant to make PWLs feel good about themselves. Her posts are too stereotypical. BTW white liberals could care less about blacks, look at the south side of Chicago. A county run by Democrats, a super majority in Springfield and a mayor who just loves the black community—–until you look at the graduation rates the violence the poverty joblessness ect. Rahm is the phoniest of phony using Chicago as a stepping stone to the White House. Why is it whenever there are blacks living in horrible poverty that the democrats are in charge???

    • Gregor says:

      Rahm Emanuel will never be president. Do you hear me? He can position himself with two fingers up Lady Liberty’s twat; he can pierce his right nipple with a flag pin; he can make School House Glock his pet project; Rahm Emanuel will NEVER be president. He’s a Jew. We’re lower on the social totem pole than blacks, drug addicts and gays. We’re a notch above Eskimos.

      I’m surprised, Andy. I’d think a guy like you would appreciate Rahm. Considering the way he used The NATO Protests in Chicago as an opportunity to showcase his contempt of those who yearn for justice. The police beat the crap out of those kids. And filed for overtime. All in a days work.

      As for Annie, she doesn’t strike me as any more or less stereotypical than me. We’re all out here, armed with our small beliefs, trying to prove they’re bigger than they are, hoping to convince someone, most likely ourselves, we matter.

      Guess what? We don’t.

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