Sucking Up Solar Subsidies and Still Staggering

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on September 8, 2009

in Blog

From the Energy Information Administration and the General Accounting Office (via the Institute for Energy Research):

Total Federal subsidies for electric production for fiscal year 2007 from solar power are $24.34 per megawatt hour, compared to 44 cents for traditional coal, 25 cents for natural gas and petroleum liquids, 67 cents for hydroelectric power, and $1.59 for nuclear. Solar subsidies for non-electric production in fiscal 2007 totaled $2.82 per million Btu, second only to ethanol/biofuels at $5.72 per million Btu. (Figures are in 2007 dollars.)

In fiscal year 2007, solar received 9.2 percent of all federal research subsidies to power generation but produced only 0.016 percent of U.S. electricity. Per kilowatt-hour, this was 1255 times higher than the amount allocated to coal, most of which was spent to develop cleaner technologies. Coal produced 51.4 percent of all U.S. electricity in fiscal year 2007.

So then, how does this happen (USA Today):

Investors holding solar energy stocks are getting one nasty burn. Shares of companies that make solar panels have flamed out this year, missing out on what’s been a significant recovery in the stock market.

Market leaders, including First Solar and SunPower, for instance, are down 12 percent and 30 percent this year, even as the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index is up 13 percent. And the Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF, which tracks stocks in the industry, is down 6 percent this year.

Is there any amount of taxpayer money that could be thrown at solar to make it efficient and profitable?

Bob R Geologist, Tuc September 8, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I am not surprised at the high cost of solar during this introductory phase. Wind power will not be cheap either. But the ultimate test is long term reliability. Even in our sunny southwest we have our cloudy days. In normally windy country, winds tend to decrease markedly at night. Our economy demands an adequate, continuous supply of power which means we will have to have backup power, lots of it, available on very short notice. As long as our politicians and greens are smitten with the belief that CO2 in excess in our atmosphere is an endangerment to life, we are in big trouble maintaining civilization as we know it. This deliberate attempt by our powers that be to restrict CO2 flys against all we know about past climate history. And our huge outlay for scientific research to prove AGW is still being ignored, even if it has failed to show results. I'm beginning to believe it will take another Little Ice Age to bring these crazy people to their senses.

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