Solar Energy

Solar energy subsidies (tax dollars paid to producers) increased from $179 million  to $1.13 billion from FY 2008 to FY 2010. The federal government provides subsidies to a variety of energy producers including wind, solar and nuclear.  The majority of tax dollar spending,  for the three year time span,  was a result of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus law.

The federal subsidies for wind energy increased from $476 million to almost $5.0 billion in FY2010.  Federal subsidies for nuclear energy increased from $1.7 billion in FY2008 to about $2.5 billion in FY2010.

Our U.S. Congress requested the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to determine the subsidies for various electricity sources as a function of the amount of electricity produced. The EIA is an independent agency of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The measure of a federal subsidy, in dollars, for a particular energy source divided by the energy produced, in MW-hrs, provides an indicator of the value the nation is getting from that particular energy source. Although the EIA did not report this analysis, ref.1, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) reported their analysis in ref. 2.

For electricity produced by our nuclear plants,  taxpayers paid $3.14 per MW-hr. For electricity produced from wind   energy, taxpayers paid $56.29 per MW-hr. For solar produced electricity taxpayers paid $775.64 per MW-hr. The results of the IER analysis in graphical form, ref. 2, is shown in the accompanying figure.

Concluding Comments

        On a unit of production basis, (MW-hrs), solar energy is by far the costliest form of  electricity production. Both wind and solar electricity production are significantly more expensive than nuclear energy production of electricity. In 2010 wind provided 2.3% of our total energy needs, while solar provided only a fraction above 0%. Coal, natural gas and the oil industries paid more than $10 billion of taxes in 2009. Wind and solar are net drains on the U. S. Treasury.

If, in your opinion, we are not getting our moneys worth of electricity from solar and wind please tell your U. S. Representative and your state’s U. S. Senators. You can reference this website.

References:

1. Energy Information Administration, Direct Federal Financial Interventions and subsidies in energy in FY 2010,  July 2011,  www.eia.gov/analysis/subsidy/pdf/subsidy.pdf

2. The Institute for Energy Research, EIA Releases New Subsidy Report: Subsidies for Renewables Increase 186 percent, August 3, 2011.  www.institatuteforenergy research.org/2011/08/03/eia-releases-new-subsidy