DOE’s new No. 2 on Solyndra: It’s about cheap Chinese financing

Talk about timing: The Department of Energy’s new Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Richard Kauffman, joined on the Tuesday following the now infamous Solyndra announcement. The former CEO of the energy investment group Good Energies has been on the job for a little over three weeks now (his first public sector job) and discussed some of his ideas for the first time at two clean energy conferences this week.

Even though he joined the DOE in the post-Solyndra era, he’s still got an opinion on Solyndra (and says he wishes he had known about it before he joined):

I wish we could use Solyndra as an example to talk about the question of financing. Behind the decline in prices of China’s [solar] modules is really the question of financing. China has a cheaper cost of financing than the U.S. One example is the China Development Bank has $50 billion dollars of credit for renewable energy. It’s an example of the fire power that Chinese companies have in terms of financing. One of the investments I made at Good Energies was for a Chinese manufacturer and I was in meetings with Mayors of cities and they didn’t exactly hand me bags of money, but it was the next best thing. . . . We think about China as having cheaper manufacturing costs than the U.S., but it’s not just manufacturing costs, it’s cheaper financing costs. We have very expensive financing costs.

In a blog post on the DOE website that introduced Kauffman this week he says:

I’m looking forward to working with the business community to break down the financing obstacles that can stand in the way of the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Image courtesy of the DOE