There are frequently complaints bandied about by the usual suspects about the horrendous subsidies for renewable energy, along with claims that renewables would die without them. It’s worth looking at the state of energy subsidies in the US in that context.
There are a set of increasing numbers that are worth considering. Congressional research puts the minimum number at $4.6 billion annually. An NRDC G7 annual analysis puts the number at $27.4 billion annually. An IMF full accounting including negative externalities related to health and global warming puts it at $649 billion annually.
The United States, unlike many countries, doesn’t have a direct consumption subsidy for fossil fuels, which is what some defenders of the industry use as the basis of their false claim that there are no subsidies. The International Energy Agency tracks direct consumption subsidies in material it publishes annually, and the United States doesn’t show up in that list. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China lead the pack in terms of those subsidies, but China is tracking well in terms of reducing subsidies across the energy space, including on fossil fuels.
And it’s also worth noting that nuclear generation also has permanent tax code breaks worth $1.6 billion annually as well. That excludes the insurance liability cap on nuclear plants which the United States taxpayer is on the hook for in the case of a Fukushima- or Chernobyl-scale incident. Anything over $13 billion is the responsibility of the US government, hence taxpayers. Since Fukushima’s total economic costs are likely to be closer to a trillion USD than not if everything is counted in, $13 billion doesn’t look like a lot.
Without subsidies, fossil-based fuels and energy would be unaffordable but at the end of the day, the taxpayer still pays. If renewable energy could garner $649 billion I suppose it could quickly solve the energy storage problem it still faces. The time comes when you must start shifting funds towards future energy generation sources to ensure they grow and become sustainable. Otherwise, we'd all be stuck with 1950's technology still today!
#fossilfuel US Subsidizes Fossil Fuels To The Tune Of $4.6, $27.4, Or $649 Billion Annually, Depending On Source
In 2022, new wind energy will get zero financial assistance of any kind and new solar will get very little, while fossil fuels will continue to get $4.6 billion annually in the best possible accounting, $27.4 billion in a reasonable accounting and $649 billion in a full accounting including negative externalities.