Thursday, September 25, 2008

Federal support for non-carbon dioxide polluting energy technologies

by Marcel F. Williams

Management Information Services, Inc. of Washington D.C. has recently come out with a report that indicates that most of the US tax subsidies and R&D for the energy industry from 1950 to 2006 has gone to the fossil fuel industry. The oil industry led the way with 335 billion dollars in Federal Energy incentives. The natural gas industry was second with over 100 billion dollars in federal energy incentives. Coal was third with 94 billion dollars. So the greenhouse gas polluting fossil fuel industries have received over 529 billion dollars in Federal energy incentives from 1950 to 2006.
Amongst renewable energy technologies, hydroelectric power has received 80 billion in federal energy incentives, wind and solar has received 45 billion in federal energy incentives, and geothermal has received 7 billion in federal energy incentives. So the amount of federal energy incentives for renewable energy was 132 billion between 1950 and 2006.
Nuclear energy has received 65 billion in federal energy incentives. However, less than 6 billion dollars of federal energy incentives have been provided for light water reactors in the US which are the only nuclear power facilities that produce commercial electricity in the US. The rest has been for R&D for breeder reactors and other reactor types that have never gone on line commercially in the US.

While nuclear energy has received less than half the federal energy incentives of renewable energy systems, it currently produces nearly 20 % of electricity in the US while renewable energy systems produce less than 9% of US electricity. Solar, Wind, and Geothermal energy has been provided with 52 billion in federal energy incentives, yet , combined, they provide only 1.1% of US electricity.

So it is clear that amongst the federal energy incentives for non-carbon dioxide polluting technologies, nuclear power has produced substantially more electrical energy than renewable systems for far less money. And this is especially true when it comes to wind, solar, and geothermal technologies which currently produce nearly 20 times less electricity than nuclear power.

References and Links

1. Analysis of Federal Expenditures for Energy Development September 2008By Management Information Services, Inc. Washington, D.C.

2. Which Energy Industry Gets the Biggest Subsidies?


Charles Barton said...

We have both posted on this topic. The Energy Information agency defines a subsidy as "the transfer of wealth from the federal government to the beneficiaries [of the subsidies]." it is clear that most of what nuclear critics call subsidies do not in fact involve the transfer of government wealth to the nuclear power industry. Over 90% of alleged subsidies do not involve the transfer of wealth from the government to the Civilian nuclear power industry.

Marcel F. Williams said...

I strongly believe that the US should move rapidly towards a nuclear and renewable energy economy to replace the current greenhouse gas polluting fossil fuel economy.

But so far, its pretty clear that per dollar spent, federal investment in nuclear energy research has been a lot more productive than federal investments in renewable energy.

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