Last week, solar energy company Solyndra filed for bankruptcy after being funded by a $535 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy as well as $1.1 billion in private venture capital. Solyndra’s failure created a frenzy of criticism over the risks around ‘green collar’ jobs and investment in renewable energy.
Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin blasted the Obama administration for spending taxpayer’s money to try and create jobs, especially in the clean tech sector.
David Brooks of the New York Times was equally as skeptical of government spending into green jobs. He cited Solyndra and a green project in California fueled by $186 million worth of stimulus money that only produced 538 jobs as evidence that job creation and green technology do not go hand in hand.
However, by looking deeper into Solyndra’s failure and the renewable energy sector as a whole, a different story can be extracted. Devon Swezey of Forbes magazine sees the bankruptcy as a natural consequence of our capitalist economy. It is not the entire renewable energy sector that is the problem, but Solyndra’s business model. Their innovation was a thin, silicon-free solar panel that became impractical after the price of silicon unexpectedly dropped.
In hindsight, investing in Solyndra was a poor choice, but risk-taking like that is essential for job growth and development of new technology. There are plenty of solar energy success stories like SunPower, First Solar, and Brightsource Energy, which were all partially fueled by government money. The only reason green energy investments are being hit by the current wave of criticism is Solyndra received a great deal of publicity during a volatile time in American politics. By looking at the big picture, it is evident green technology is not doomed to fail and can turn a profit while creating jobs.
According to the Breakthrough Institute, the current world leaders in clean energy are China, Japan and South Korea. Their clean energy technology is almost entirely fueled by government investment, which has created hundreds of jobs and millions in tax revenue.
It’s a small part of the puzzle, but we believe .ECO domain names can go a long way to helping promote and lift up the many ‘green economy success stories’ that are out there, like these great solar projects in the USA and around the world.
It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but the reality is failure is part of any economy, indeed it may be the most important part, if people are given the opportunity to learn from those mistakes and try again.
That’s why it’s so important that the standards around .ECO reflect the need for companies to take real action in support of the green economy, regardless of whether they are successful.