What if Solar Were Subsidized Like Oil?

Not everyone is aware that prices of a variety of products are artificially lowered by government subsidies. However, these subsidies help preserve some institutions that quite a few people are opposed to (or at least concerned about). Two of the most egregious beneficiaries are the industrial farming and fossil fuel industries.

While energy subsidies have been among the central green talking points for a while, I wasn’t aware just how big of an impact they could make — until I saw this infographic from One Block Off the Grid.

A few notes:

  • As one commenter on 1BOG points out, Germany does not just subsidize clean energy. Much of their success in solar is due to a feed-in tariff. When discussing clean energy, maybe support would be a more accurate term than subsidize.
  • The data for this chart is pre-stimulus. In the U.S., government support for solar and other forms of clean energy has increased over the last two of years.
  • The details are, of course, too complicated to be explained in an effective chart. I would say to take this graphic as an illustration (albeit an important and brilliant one), understanding that direct subsidization is not the only way to compare energy support.

Even considering these points, the fact still remains that American taxpayers are funding an industry that includes some of the world’s wealthiest corporations, most of which should be old enough to fend for themselves. Greens and progressives aside, I would think that voters who are uncomfortable with state-controlled economics in general would object to the government essentially choosing what kind of energy consumers can afford. Even if this country refuses to recognize the benefits of funding clean energy (in one way or another), surely there is an argument for, at least, leveling the playing field.

Via GOOD.

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