Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
It can be tough for those of us in the English-speaking world to access independent views from elsewhere. EcoTretas is a blog from Portugal. According to Google, the name translates as “Eco Bullshit.” Among other things, it pokes fun at those who “are Anti-American yet like Al Gore.”
Yesterday’s English-language post is titled A Dark Economy: an inside perspective. It seems Portugal’s current Prime Minister, José Sócrates, was that country’s Environment minister between 1999 and 2002. After the reins of the entire country were placed into his hands in 2005, he apparently made green energy a national priority.
The story doesn’t have a happy ending, however. As EcoTretas points out, the world’s first wave power farm was a Portuguese initiative. It ran for a grand total of two months in 2008, was shut down, and hasn’t worked since. (In my view, risk-taking is a great thing and not every idea will bear fruit. People shouldn’t be ridiculed for trying and failing. But renewable energy projects too often seem to be directed by those with green-coloured mush where their brains are supposed to be – see here and here. There is a difference, after all, between sensible plans and foolish ones.)
Portugal is also home to one of Europe’s largest solar power stations. But as is the case elsewhere, Portuguese consumers pay well over market rates for the power it produces. The company that owns this power station is actually Spanish – which means those extra costs are fattening foreign bank accounts.
Wind energy, too, has been pursued in Portugal. Because huge taxpayer subsidies also power the wind industry, this is bad news for a country like Portugal that finds itself on the least-wealthy end of the European income spectrum. As EcoTretas phrases it: “the more the wind blows, the poorer we get.”
Hmm. Might there be a connection between the green energy policies being pursued by its government and the fact that Portugal’s economy is currently in a shambles?