Last Wednesday I was Thinking Solar, and stated that investor confidence may become solar’s highest hurdle.

By that I meant investor confidence not only in the local utility (which may be vulnerable to corruption scandals), but also investor confidence in the viability of solar energy itself.

When I was researching Wednesday’s post I came across many stories describing the disastrous damage done to fragile desert habitats. The Mojave Solar Plant is not the only one, but it certainly stands out. The Green Corruption Files has a lengthy post describing how  the taxpayer-subsidized California Mojave Solar Plant is a massive green disaster:

New “informants” (those that worked for ABEINSA EPC and Abengoa Solar, which are both subsidiaries of Abengoa the holding corporation, and/or those that worked at the Mojave Solar project in other capacities), whom have spoken on condition of anonymity, among other serious issues found at this California solar plant that included violating California State Seismic codes, came forward with startling revelations that will be disclosed in today’s blockbuster Green Corruption File.

  • The Mojave Solar Plant doesn’t meet the minimal life safety standard of California Tile 24
  • There was an unreported large toxic spill at the Mojave Solar Plant: “Hundreds of gallons of Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF) was spilled and they just dispersed into the ground
  • The underground Heat Transfer Fluid tunnels were not ventilated
  • Despite California’s dreadful drought, “the Mojave Solar Plan is using 1,709,985 gallons of water per day
  • Abengoa continues to abuse America

The post, which you should read in full, explains in detail each of these charges.

Underwriting it all are massive amounts of U.S. government money going to Spanish Conglomerate Abengoa:

it’s hard to say how much free money that Abengoa scored from the U.S. or if it came from the stimulus-created 1603 Grant Program, of which, as of August 3, 2015, has dished out $24.5 billion of free taxpayer cash.

However, we do know that Abengoa received plenty of money from the United States Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank), which is another avenue where favored firms are awarded hundreds of millions of taxpayer-backed loans. Besides the fact there are some serious “conflict of interest” that involve the Bank and Abengoa, I found three Ex-Im Bank “green” transactions benefiting this foreign firm that transpired in 2011, 2012 and 2013, exceeding $267 million, which are chronicled in my June 2015 Green Corruption File.

Abengoa has projects in Mexico and Chile, all heavily subsidized by the governments of those countries.

So far, solar energy development relies in government-down policies, where the funding effectively  is involved in creating a command economy. Command economies have failed everywhere they have been tried. In the solar industry specifically, Solyndra’s collapse left taxpayers holding the bag to the tune of $535 million in federal guarantees.

The green dream of solar energy so far has failed to be “clean,” “good for the environment,” or cost effective. Until it meets those three criteria, investor confidence (which in turn generates competition and innovation) will remain low.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on US and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.