Solyndra

Humble Beacon CEO Downplays Victory In "Next Solyndra" Race

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Beacon Power hydrant: Look for it in your neighborhood, comrade.

Move over, SunPower. Blow out your candles, Solar Energy Project. SoloPower your sun has set; Fisker Automotive, your race is run. 

There can be only one Solyndra II, and it is Beacon Power, a Massachusetts energy storage company that went bankrupt Sunday, unsaved by a $43 million taxpayer-guaranteed loan from Steven Chu's Department of Energy. 

CNET's Martin LaMonica digs up an I'm Not Solyndra statement [pdf] from Bill Capp, Beacon President and CEO. 

Some of Capp's distinctions – such as the Nasdaq-delisted company's status as a publicly traded entity – are minor. Others are non-existent. Capp notes, for example that Beacon only borrowed $39.5 million of the $43 million guarantee – but the same could be said for Solyndra, which only borrowed between $527 million and $528 million of its $535 million guarantee. 

On the other hand, Beacon's loan has not been renegotiated. This means taxpayers may be getting more cents to the dollar in bankruptcy court than they will in the case of Solyndra's loan, which was restructured earlier this year in an extraordinary move that subordinated taxpayers to the solar panel maker's politically connected investors. (The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is attempting through its subpoena power to compel the Obama Administration to reveal details about this novel restructuring.) 

Beacon is also still operating, with its employees taking a 20 percent pay cut, in contrast to Solyndra, which shuttered its operation and is auctioning off its possessions. Beacon makes a "first-of-its-kind flywheel energy storage plant that provides a critical electric power balancing service to help maintain a reliable grid." 

Adrian "Ozymandias" Veidt, drawn by unsung Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons.

My understanding is that energy storage is an actual problem that needs to be solved in order to make renewable energy sources – which are costly, unreliable and unproductive relative to standard energy sources – economical. I have no idea whether the Beacon flywheel is that solution, but I do note that the hydrant-shaped storage device is quite similar to if larger than the e-car tanks that made the fortune of Adrian Veidt, Machiavellian Watchmen foil. They're even closer to the Veidt model than the "e-filling stations" envisioned by Better Place, a Palo Alto company that earlier this year was promising to put up its first electronic refueling stop (E-xxon? Elexaco? ValerOhm?) in Israel but more recently seems to be merely "ready to start widely deploying electric vehicles across Israel." (The green energy sector still has excellent image and media management.) 

Who knew the next generation of entrepreneurs dreamed of being Adrian Veidt? From what I remember about the dotcom period's baleful end, I expect the accelerating collapse of green energy will reveal more fantastical delusions concocted by slobbering fans of comic books (sorry, graphic novels!). 

Bonus from Solyndra dead ender Joe Romm: Americans for Prosperity's new Solyndra advertisement, which Romm describes as "speculation and outright lies," but which is more accurately described as an accurate summation of the known facts of the case, with ample and clear documentation: 

"Of course, it would be silly to speculate or assume anything before the official investigation of the loan guarantee program is complete," Romm writes. I think that means we're in for a long winter. 

Bronze medal update: We've got Win and Place, but what about Show? CBS News has EnerDel favored for the Solyndra III spot. Also, AP's Matthew Daly digs through today's Solyndra document dump and finds that the administration had a plan to bail the company out

NEXT: Teacherpocalypse Update: There Was No Teacherpocalypse

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  1. …but I do note that the hydrant-shaped storage device is quite similar to if larger than the e-car tanks that made the fortune of Adrian Veidt, Machiavellian Watchmen foil.

    And being blue cylinders, the devices are similar to another Watchman staple.

    Did Beacon take the borrowed funds to buy outrageously overpriced real estate for their facilities, too?

  2. Beacon only borrowed $39.5 million of the $43 million guarantee ? but the same could be said for Solyndra, which only borrowed between $527 million and $528 million of its $535 million guarantee.

    Kind of like how fat guys always leave a little bit on their plate so that they can tell themselves they aren’t overeating?

    1. I resemble that remark!

    2. I’m not a “fat guy”, I’m a “person of weight”.

      1. too short for your width?

  3. I just got an email saying that the Occupy Houston people are occupying my office building lobby on Friday morning. That’ll be interesting.

    1. I am taking a wild guess that you don’t work in a police station or a gun store?

      1. The building is named after a bank and has a branch of said bank in the lobby. Most of the building is offices for other people though. Apparently they are marching around the city closing their bank accounts. This should take 10 mins because Occupy Houston is only like 20 people, I drive by there every morning.

        1. I thought the 99% didn’t have bank accounts to close. Only loan accounts to close relieve.

        2. Even more fun, Michael Moore is scheduled to attend.

          1. Holy shit, to bad I’ll be busy working to check it out.

            Ok maybe not.

  4. Something to view through your monocle:
    http://news.sky.com/home/techn…..e/16101509

  5. more fantastical delusions concocted by slobbering fans of comic books (sorry, graphic novels!).

    The Watchmen was originally a monthly limited series comic book and is written as one complete with cliff hangers, a serial story about pirates, and specific issue extras material.

    It was only later sold as a graphic novel.

    1. One may also notice that each “chapter” of the alleged graphic novel are all the same exact number of pages….and in fact the same exact number of pages an average comic book comes in at.

      Graphic novel my ass.

    2. Sort of like Apartment 3g?

      1. Sort of like Apartment 3g?

        No, like Batman vs Dracula 6 issue limited series.

        The Watchmen comic book was 12 issues that came out once a month, with some delays on some issues, between 1986 and 1987.

        1. Once Time included Watchmen on its 100 all-time novels list, the revolution was over. The highbrows won.

          But wasn’t the whole e-filling concept only possible because Dr. Manhattan had already solved the energy problem? I think the Department of Energy needs to subsidize a company that will disintegrate a physicist at the sub-atomic level in order to create a trans-dimensional superbeing. If the Chinese get the jump on us in that market, we’re screwed.

          1. I thought he solved the “availability of rare metals” problem, but I could wrong.

          2. First thing we do, let’s make sure this super-powered-entity-making experiment is tried out on everyone who believes in the power of government funding to solve energy problems. If it doesn’t work, we should then keep running the experiment again however many times are necessary until it either succeeds or runs out of volunteers.

          3. Lest there be a blue dong gap.

          4. There is no need to ever use ‘renewables’, there is more oil and gas on earth than we could ever use.

  6. DOE, pronounced, “Doh!”.

  7. My understanding is that energy storage is an actual problem that needs to be solved in order to make renewable energy sources ? which are costly, unreliable and unproductive relative to standard energy sources ? economical.

    It is one of the issues that makes the alternative energy schemes money pits. The other is wind and solar inherently are low density energy sources. If you told an engineer to design a system based on technology that doesn’t exist, in the hope that someone would create it, he would look at you like you were crazy. The insanity is that the government is doing just that.

  8. we have this loan business, Fast & Furious, an administration that has managed to trade Qaddafi for sharia in Lybia and Mubarak for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, but the big political story is whether Herman Cain smiled at someone 12 years ago.

  9. “Beacon makes a “first-of-its-kind flywheel energy storage plant that provides a critical electric power balancing service to help maintain a reliable grid.”

    My understanding is that energy storage is an actual problem that needs to be solved in order to make renewable energy sources ? which are costly, unreliable and unproductive relative to standard energy sources ? economical.”

    Power balancing is a different concept from energy storage, and just involves trying to keep generation and load matched minute-to-minute so that system frequency stays close to 60 Hz and the interconnection doesn’t start coming apart and blacking out. I’d imagine that the friction on even an efficient flywheel system would make it fairly useless for long-term power shifting relative to something like pump storage.

    Renewables with a spinning component like a turbine (e.g., hydro, wind) can provide frequency response and inertia just like thermal generation (though perhaps not as well; I’m not sure). Unless the grid somehow came to be dominated by PV solar, I don’t see where flywheels would be useful. And really, if there was that much PV solar, I doubt there would be a grid at all.

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