Almost like the 1800s Gold Rush out west, solar farm opportunities are everywhere for investors — except with a critical difference. The government can pay for most if not all of them.
Government subsidies have been instrumental in installing huge solar farms in America’s west, and the trend is quickly moving east. In just three years from 2007 to 2010, subsidies provided by the federal government soared from $5 billion to $14.7 billion. Approved in 2009, the Economic Stimulus Bill which finances a U.S. Energy Department loan guarantee, accounts for most of the money. The U.S. Treasury Department also kicked in its share, offering grants intended to create “green jobs” and reduce our dependence on foreign, fossil fuels.
Europe has been ahead of this learning curve for so long that its market is virtually saturated. Germany, which after the Japan nuclear meltdown traded higher-risk power for solar, became so inundated with subsidies and their ensuing solar farms, that the nation now reserves federal subsidies for small-scale projects only.
Some are, admittedly, critical of this fast-growing industry. A recent article in Forbes describe what can go wrong with any industry that expands too rapidly. Valuable government money can obviously go to shoddy projects. That’s why it’s important for investors to deal with reputable, experienced companies complete with experts in engineering, finance, real estate acquisition and bullet-proof, long-term contracts.
But the vast majority of online articles report resounding success after resounding success. On an old cattle ranch and gypsum mine in southern California, an energy company — almost solely from subsidies — is producing nearly a million solar panels. The array will generate enough power for 100,000 homes. Fifteen other solar and wind projects have been produced the same way.