Does it ever end?
The Spanish green energy company Abengoa has filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. after getting billions of dollars from the Obama administration to build solar power and biofuels plants.
Abengoa, which has gotten $2.7 billion in federal subsidies, filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection after already filing for bankruptcy in Spain…
Abengoa is a large and well-connected company with boondoggles that span the globe. Let’s focus on one facility in their collection. I’m not cherry-picking a particularly egregious example; I just looked at this first. This is a plant in Kansas built to produce “cellulosic” ethanol, meaning it’s made from non-edible plant waste.
Cellulosic ethanol would be great if it worked. The traditional ethanol is “starch” ethanol, which is made from edibles like corn. Starch ethanol as fuel is a stupid boondoggle. Yes, we can produce starch ethanol, but doing so is not a net gain to energy production. The only good reason to turn corn into ethanol is to drink it. And I could use a drink about now.
Converting plant stems or wood chips or the like into ethanol could in theory be a fine source of “green” energy”. Problem is, nobody’s yet gotten cellulosic ethanol production to work on a commercial scale.
So what happens when someone says they’ll produce cellulosic ethanol on a large scale and then sticks his hand in Uncle Sugar’s deep pocket? This is what happens:
Stage 1, September 29, 2011: Announce world-saving plans and government “investment” with great fanfare. This is on the Energy.gov site: “Energy Department Finalizes $132 Million Loan Guarantee to Support the Abengoa Bioenergy Project”.
Stage 2, October 19, 2014: Announce world-saving plant opening with great fanfare. “Abengoa opens world’s largest cellulosic biorefinery, as US Energy Secretary Moniz says “Let’s get going!” on advanced biofuels.”
Stage 3, October 21, 2015: Quietly acknowledge that things aren’t going quite right, but put on a brave face and assure the government that you haven’t squandered their money. “Biofuels Maker Paid Back Its Federal Loan Without Selling Any Ethanol”. Why am I skeptical?
Stage 4, December 4, 2015: Shut down the plant. “Stevens County official: Abengoa plant shut down, workers laid off”.
And of course today’s Stage 5, bankruptcy.
How many times must we go through this? These hoodlums are laughing at us, and probably betting how quickly they can take our money and shut down. And there is ZERO political fallout, not to mention nobody going to prison for stealing the people’s money.
By the way, Abengoa plant looks like a precise replay of the previous Range Fuels fiasco.