Where Federal Energy Subsidies Really Go
A new report from the Department of Energy's research arm, the Energy Information Administration shows that "renewable" energy firms are heavily dependent on government support, says Robert L. Bradley, Jr., the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research.
- The federal government handed out $37.2 billion in direct energy subsidies in 2010, an increase of more than $19 billion over 2007.
- Of that $19 billion increase, additional subsidies for renewables amounted to more than $9 billion, a 186 percent increase.
- Subsidies for renewables now total $14.7 billion.
Wind power was the biggest recipient of federal energy dollars.
- Last year, this sector took in almost $5 billion in subsidies -- a more-than-tenfold increase from 2007.
- Meanwhile, solar energy subsidies increased six times over the same period, from $179 million to $1.13 billion.
- And biofuels (think ethanol) saw a jump from $4 billion to $6.6 billion.
Funneling money into renewables is certainly politically popular. But, at the end of the day, what exactly do green firms have to show for all that money? The truth is, not much. Wind power, for example, provides a paltry 1.2 percent of total domestic energy production. That's an increase of just 0.7 percent since 2007, despite billions of dollars in taxpayer resources.
If wind or solar or biofuels truly represent a revolution in American energy, that's great -- but let them compete on the open market, says Bradley.
Source: Robert L. Bradley, Jr., "Where Federal Energy Subsidies Really Go," Forbes, August 15, 2011. "Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010," Energy Information Administration, July 2011.
For text: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2011/08/15/where-federal-energy-subsidies-really-go/
For study: http://www.eia.gov/analysis/requests/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf
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Wind Power Doesn't Work When Needed Most
Wind energy turbines are not as effective at reducing carbon emissions as people have hoped. The current Texas summer has been extraordinarily hot, and the state's vast herd of turbines proved incapable of producing any serious amount of power, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
- On August 2, one of the hottest days of the summer in Texas and by no means an anomaly, wind energy was able to provide only about 2.2 percent of the total power demand even though the installed capacity of Texas's wind turbines theoretically equals nearly 15 percent of peak demand.
- When considering that $17 billion has been spent installing wind turbines in Texas and that another $8 billion has been allocated for transmission lines to carry the electricity generated by the turbines to distant cities, the wind turbines haven't been the best use of taxpayer money.
- That money could have been better spent on 5,000 megawatts of highly reliable nuclear generation capacity or as much as 25,000 megawatts of natural-gas-fired capacity.
Even though wind energy is being called an alternative to conventional electricity by its proponents, its output is generally low when demand is at its highest. The incurable intermittency and extreme variability of wind energy requires utilities and grid operators to continue relying on conventional sources of generation like coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel.
Source: Robert Bryce, "The Wind-Energy Myth: The Claims for this 'Green' Source of Energy Wither in the Texas Heat," National Review, August 19, 2011.
For text: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/274388/wind-energy-myth-robert-bryce