The business model for wind and solar has long relied on taxpayer largesse. A new study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration illustrates just how excessive public support has grown, finding that wind and solar receive more subsidies than any other energy source.
In FY 2013, the wind industry brought in a mind-blowing $5.9 billion in federal subsidies alone, while solar got $5.3 billion. The report also shows that wind and solar subsidies continued to grow since 2010, even as the federal government scaled back its overall energy subsidies.
In this study, the EIA does not count state-level subsidies, loan guarantees or tax credits. It also fails to factor in how more than half of all states have enacted renewable energy standards, forcing utility companies to provide a portion of their energy from expensive green sources.
Still, the federal government’s support looks even more substantial in the context of another metric, Watchdog.org reports:
The Institute for Energy Research, a research organization that advocates free-market solutions to energy issues, took the EIA study a step further.
The IER calculated federal subsidies and support per unit of electricity production from the EIA charts and concluded that on a per dollar basis, the solar industry is subsidized 345 times more than coal and oil and natural gas electricity production, and wind is subsidized 52 times more than more conventional fossil fuels.
“Wind and solar are vastly more subsidized than these other sources,” said Chris Warren, director of communications at the IER. “Despite this massive amount of taxpayer dollars going towards these energy sources, they still produce such a small, small potion of our electricity. So you’re not getting a lot of bang for your buck.”
Despite all of the taxpayer help, renewable energy sources aren’t cutting it. The EIA found that in the first six months of 2014, all renewable sources combined—including not only wind and solar but also biomass, geothermal and hydropower– accounted for a measly 14.3 percent of net U.S. electrical generation. In a non-distorted market, renewables would fare even worse.
It’s bad enough that the federal government is picking winners and losers. It’s even worse to see the winners it picked showing such losing results.