(Obama green energy program story, updated for federal tariff on Chinese imports, California renewable energy standard, LDK Solar loan package in China)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The recession may be over, but the cadre of elite economists who signed the recession's death certificate last week did not say whether the Obama administration's economic Recovery Act of 2009 was responsible for ending the worst economic slump since World War II. Vice president Joe Biden, on the other hand, recently released a list of the 100 Recovery Act projects that in his words, are "changing America." The problem is that green energy in America isn't changing fast enough, no matter what the Biden list would have you believe. Making Vice President Biden's list of the 100 economic stimulus projects deserving of special notice were dozens related to green energy, from electric cars and electric car battery makers -- a clear focus on Biden's list -- to smart grid, wind and solar investments. The Obama administration is obviously using the Biden 100 Top Recovery Act projects list as it tries to build support for its much criticized Stimulus 2.0 spending package -- and, more generally, fend off attacks that it hasn't been an effective steward of the U.S. economy while, as Republican rhetoric contends, the government spends, spends and spends. No one can doubt the Obama administration has shown more of a focus on energy efficiency than the previous administration, yet Stimulus 2.0 was lacking in broad focus on energy efficiency and alternative energy compared with the 2009 Recovery Act.
"Recovery Project That Is Changing America" No. 1 vs. Green Energy Reality
Coming in at No. 85 on Biden's list of recovery projects that are changing America is a Department of Energy $43 million loan guarantee for Beacon Power's ( BCON) 20 megawatt innovative flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, New York.
"Recovery Project That Is Changing America" No. 2 vs. Green Energy Reality
There was not just one recovery project devoted to wind power, but several wind power projects making Biden's list as proof that the Recovery Act of 2009 was changing the country.
"Recovery Project That Is Changing America" No. 3 vs. Green Energy Reality
Much has been made of the huge amount of money that the federal government doled out to green energy in the Recovery Act of 2009 as a sign of its commitment to innovative energy policy -- and that's a fair argument to make.
Yet it's not at all clear how the thin film race in the U.S. is going to play out, and there have already been for years several thin film players competing to supplant First Solar ( FSLR). Many of these companies, like Nanosolar and Miasole, have been rumored in the IPO pipeline for so long one wonders if the pipeline is clogged. It is, at least in the U.S. Chinese thin film player Trony Solar had to bag its planned New York Stock Exchange listing and just listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today.
The thin-film companies like Abound Solar that have received a considerable share of venture capital and private equity money have all made great claims about their ability to manufacture thin film at a lower cost than First Solar, yet the capital markets aren't convinced. Meanwhile, the standard crystalline silicon players from China that received the big loan commitments from the Chinese government continue to gain market share. A new Solarbuzz report on 2010 released this week stated that among the Top 12 cell manufacturers in the second quarter 2010, six Chinese manufacturers accounted for 55% of shipments, up from 43% a year ago. All four of the Chinese companies receiving the more than $20 billion in loans from the China Development Bank were in the Top 5. First Solar was the only U.S. company joining the Chinese quartet. The Recovery Act and its myriad green energy projects may be changing America in fits and starts, and may change America to a far greater extent yet, but at least in 2010, there's still reason to think it's easier for politicians and a society to talk about being green than to actually become green overnight, or by way of 100 projects. --Written by Eric Rosenbaum in New York. To contact the writer of this article, click here: NAME. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/NAME. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.