Spain's Green Disaster a Lesson for America

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BARCELONA, Spain -- It was just last year that President Obama was touring Solyndra headquarters and telling us green technology was the future:

"The future is here. We are poised to transform the ways we power our homes and our cars and our businesses," Obama said. 

The president said America had better get on board or else fall behind the rest of the world in the growth of renewable or "green" technology.

Spain's Colossal Failure

One the nations he held up as an example for America's green technology effort was Spain.

However, President Obama may like Spain's green technology program, but the Spanish -- not so much. One study has declared it a colossal failure.

The Spanish recently threw out their socialist government over their terrible economy and a 22 percent unemployment rate.

Green technology was supposed to be Spain's path to more jobs and a cleaner more prosperous future. It wasn't.

"Politicians told us some years ago that they found a new way of investing or doing public investing in a new sector, in the renewable energies, that would create a sort of new economy with new jobs, green jobs, so called green jobs," Dr. Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, with King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, said.

But what the Spanish got was a big helping of a Solyndra style business debacle: a lot of taxpayer money down the drain and jobs that cost a fortune to create.

A Job Killer

Calzada, an economist, studied Spain's green technology program and found that each green job created in Spain cost Spanish taxpayers $770,000. Each Wind Industry job cost $1.3 million to create. 

"President Zapatero, for example, when he came in to power, said he knew, 'he knew' that solar energy was the future," Calzada said. "He 'knew' this, so he put all the public money and investment into this model."

But Calzada's study found that for every four jobs created by Spain's expensive green technology program, nine jobs were lost.

Electricity generated was so expensive that each "green" megawatt installed in the power grid destroyed five jobs elsewhere in the economy by raising business costs.

Unsafe Conditions

Marta Sabina lives on the outskirts of Barcelona in one of Spain's new green technology apartment buildings.

It has been a nightmare for this mother of three young children. Her toilet uses recycled water with chemicals in it.

She said it's unsafe for her children and often looks no different from toilet water that hasn't been flushed.

"A lot of times I am coming to the bathroom and I am pushing all the time because the water is dirty and I don't know if it's the kids because they have not pushed or if because it's the water," Sabina said. "Sometimes it smells very bad and it's very dirty and it's not for kids."

Sabina has also had to heat her family's hot water on the stove because the building's solar water heater didn't work for three years.

Breaking the Bank

Spain's green technology dream was costing the nation more than $15 billion a year before the government had to slash it because it had failed and Spain was going broke.

The Obama Administration's 2007 stimulus package included $80 billion for green jobs.

"Green energy is not ready for prime time," Seton Motley, president of Less Government, said. "It's not ready for private sector production."

"Everything that requires government money means there's no market for it," he explained. "Because if there was a market for it, there'd be plenty of private capital to invest in it and people saying, 'Let's go forward.' "

The market didn't like General Motors, which faced bankruptcy. Then Washington came to the rescue. Uncle Sam bought 500-million shares of General Motors, which have since lost $15 billion in value.

"I can't think of, off the top of my head, a bigger loser than GM, as far as most money in one place that's going down the tubes," Motley said.

Environmental Dream Buster

The Spanish could have taught the Americans a thing or two about government money down the tubes.

Spain spent billions on an environmental dream that helped make their economy worse and added to the nation's already crushing government debt.

And now Spain's future is looking more like what Greece is facing.

*Originally aired November 29, 2011. 

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CBN News
Dale Hurd

Dale Hurd

CBN News Sr. Reporter

A CBN News veteran, Dale Hurd has reported extensively from Western Europe, as well as China, Russia, and Central and South America.  Since 9/11, Dale has reported in depth on various aspects of the global war on terror in the United States and Europe.  Follow Dale on Twitter @HurdontheWeb and "like" him at