Thirty-Eight Years Of Subsidies

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

On April 18, 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced his new energy policy. His speech included the following predictions of a dire future unless we repented of our evil ways:

I know that some of you may doubt that we face real energy shortages. The 1973 gasoline lines are gone, and our homes are warm again. But our energy problem is worse tonight than it was in 1973 or a few weeks ago in the dead of winter. It is worse because more waste has occurred, and more time has passed by without our planning for the future. And it will get worse every day until we act.

The oil and natural gas we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about six percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last five years. Our nation’s independence of economic and political action is becoming increasingly constrained. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil that it can produce.

The world now uses about 60 million barrels of oil a day and demand increases each year about five percent. This means that just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every nine months, or a new Saudi Arabia every three years. Obviously, this cannot continue.

Now we have a choice. But if we wait, we will live in fear of embargoes. We could endanger our freedom as a sovereign nation to act in foreign affairs. Within ten years we would not be able to import enough oil — from any country, at any acceptable price.

If we wait, and do not act, then our factories will not be able to keep our people on the job with reduced supplies of fuel. Too few of our utilities will have switched to coal, our most abundant energy source.

Inflation will soar, production will go down, people will lose their jobs. Intense competition will build up among nations and among the different regions within our own country.

If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions.

SOURCE Carter’s Speech

His conclusion was that “We must start now to develop the new, unconventional sources of energy we will rely on in the next century.” So he started throwing money at the problem. His “solution”  involved inter alia:

A “gas-guzzler” tax on automobiles

A rebate on electric vehicles

A gasoline tax

Subsidies to buses

Taxes on aviation and marine fuel

Sound familiar? It should, as these are all parts of the current war on fossil fuels.

A year and a half from now, it will be the 40th anniversary of President Carter’s prophecies of catastrophe. And it will also be the 40th anniversary of the start of the subsidization of the solar and wind power sectors. These subsidies have currently reached astounding levels. Table ES2 from the US Energy Information Agency gives the subsidies of all types (direct expenditures, tax expenditures, R&D, rural utilities subsidy) for 2013, the most recent year available. Here are the results:

In 2013, coal was subsidized about a billion dollars. Natural gas and oil, about $2.3 billion. Nuclear got about $1.7 billion. Total, about $5.0 billion dollars.

Now, how about renewables? Solar energy alone, at $5.3 billion, gets more subsidy than all the fossil fuels put together plus nuclear. And wind energy alone, the recipient of an even larger $5.9 billion dollar subsidy, also is larger than all fossil plus nuclear. In total, the renewable sector got about $15 billion dollars in subsidies, three times that of fossil fuels plus nuclear. More than two-thirds of that went to wind and solar.

And it is getting worse. Despite years of people saying that the solar and wind power were market ready and competitive and all that, in 2010 solar and wind got a total of $6.5 billion dollars in subsidies … and by 2013, the subsidies were up to $11.2 billion dollars.

$11.2

Billion.

Dollars.

Note that this $11+ billion dollar subsidy was just for 2013, and does not include the billions and billions of the past 36 years of solar and wind subsidies since Jimmy Carter. It also doesn’t include the billions upon billions of dollars that the Europeans have poured into solar and wind subsidies of all types. And importantly, it doesn’t include the subsidization of expensive renewable energy sources through “renewable energy mandates”. It also only includes US Federal Government programs, so it doesn’t include any State programs.

It also doesn’t include the implicit subsidy of renewables from the penalties imposed on fossil fuels (Carter’s gasoline taxes, “cap-and-trade” programs, the Kyoto Protocol, “carbon taxes”, and the like).

So we’re talking a playing field which has been tilted in favor of solar and wind energy by something on the order of at least a hundred billion dollars … how’s that going?

Well, yesterday I noticed that the new 2015 BP Statistical Review of World Energy had been released. So I thought I’d investigate the massive progress that the hundreds of billions of dollars of solar and wind subsidies in the US and other countries had bought us. Here’s the latest global data, read’em and weep …

Energy ConsumptionFigure 1. Global consumption of all forms of energy (blue line) in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE). SOURCE: 1.6 Mb Excel workbook

I bring all of this up for three reasons. The first is to show just how little our ~ hundred billion dollars in solar and wind subsidies has bought us. If that was supposed to be our insurance policy, it’s not only a failure, it’s a cruel joke. It’s cruel because that amount of money could provide clean water for everyone on the planet …

The second reason is to highlight the continuing failure of these “We’re all DOOOMED!! We’re running out of energy!” kind of prophecies. President Carter was neither the first nor the last of these serial failed doomcasters.

The third reason is to highlight the ludicrous nature of the claims that solar and wind are making serious inroads into the global demand for energy. They are not. Solar and wind are a rounding error. Despite almost forty years of subsidies, despite renewable mandates, despite carbon taxes, despite cap-and-trade, despite a hundred billion dollars spent on this Quixotic quest, solar and wind have barely gotten off the floor. Look at that chart, and give me a guess for how long it will take for solar and wind to catch up with fossil fuels.

Then give me a guess how long it would take if we removed all subsidies as we should.

Here’s the bottom line. It’s not just that solar and wind can’t replace fossil fuels.

It’s worse than that. Solar and wind can’t even keep up with just the increase in fossil fuels … fail. Massive fail.

As far as I’m concerned, giving one more dollar to either solar or wind subsidies is a crime against the taxpayer, as well as against the economy … after almost forty years of fruitless subsidies, they’ve had their chance and they still don’t measure up. Time to stop throwing good money after bad.

Best regards to each of you,

w.

My Usual Request: If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone’s interpretation of my words.

My New Request: If you think that e.g. I’m using the wrong method on the wrong dataset, please educate me and others by demonstrating the proper use of the right method on the right dataset. Simply claiming I’m wrong doesn’t advance the discussion.

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266 thoughts on “Thirty-Eight Years Of Subsidies

    • Add to the gloom and doom the fact that a $20 Trillion National Debt is 20,000 BILLION DOLLARS we’ve overspent and it seems hopeless. It’s as if this administration wants to destroy this once-great country through every means possible and by golly, they’ve done it.

    • https://libcom.org/library/manufactured-scarcity-profits-deindustrialisation
      well worth the read. normally the market economy results in the lowest prices to the consumer. However, the “green” economy turns this formula on its head by creating artificial scarcities.
      Companies that realize this (Enron showed how) stand to make vast fortunes by cutting back on supply, similar to what was done by OPEC in the oil crisis. As can be seen with the current low oil prices, even a small change in supply can have a huge impact on prices. By cutting supply via “green” legislation, producers increase their profits far more than if they increase supply.
      In other words, we end up with mercantilism in place of capitalism. Competition is minimized via regulation rather than maximized. Rather than a race to the bottom (lower prices to consumers) to meet demand, the green economy becomes a race to the top (higher prices to consumers) by cutting supply.

      • Ferd said:
        “Rather than a race to the bottom (lower prices to consumers) to meet demand, the green economy becomes a race to the top (higher prices to consumers) by cutting supply.”
        This is the path to “planned austerity”, is it not?

    • It is. We survived Cartah..I am not sure we are surviving this admin.
      There was a choice: develop our own resources or keep sending money to despot nations and chase windmills.
      .
      Imagine if we had not sent $78.9 billion a year to the Middle East for 40 years.
      Imagine if we had spent that money here.
      .

    • Agree with you Willis.
      You wrote above:
      “Here’s the bottom line. It’s not just that solar and wind can’t replace fossil fuels.
      It’s worse than that. Solar and wind can’t even keep up with just the increase in fossil fuels … fail.
      Massive fail.”
      We wrote in 2002 during our debate with the Pembina Institute, when we opposed the Kyoto Accord.:
      “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
      We also wrote in the same debate:
      “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
      All of our 2002 predictions have now materialized except one. Our sole remaining prediction from 2002 is for global cooling to commence by 2020-2030. We now think cooling may be apparent by 2020 or sooner.
      Bundle up!
      Regards, Allan

  1. Don’t forget aside from all that you mentioned Carter started that bureaucratic nightmare money hole known as the Department of Engery.

  2. Een if Obama really believes that fossil fuels must go, his chosen replacements (renewables) are a bad joke. Obama is just stupid. Really stupid. Molten salt reactors are the future and every energy expert with a brain knows it. The Chinese govt just announced a new crash program to commercialize the technology within a period half that they previously wanted. American companies Transatomic Power and Terrestrial Energy are both nor very far away from commercialization – probably less than 7 years. And Transatomic Power’s funding comes from private investors and is in the few millions of dollars. What a missed opportunity from our lop-eared lop-sided President.

    • Want to see how well “Renewables”really perform?South Australia,has lots of bird mincers and last week had a major power black-out,caused by an “Inter-connector”from Victoria failing.South Australia relies on their power coming from Victoria when it is needed,because their “Bird Choppers”can’t seem to cope very well.

    • The chart provided by Willis (Thanks, W.), herein called Figure 1, shows red and a green lines supported by various investors (amount unknown) and tax payers (known amount ~~hundred billion dollars).
      For your suggested alternative you seem to agree with the statement there will be commercialization in “probably less than 7 years.” Is that from one of the companies? Let’s assume the output of this source will be plotted along with the 3 existing lines, maybe in the color orange.
      Can you give an idea of what this orange line will look like (beginning whenever the 7 years is over) after 5, 10, and 20 years. With great luck and good doctors, I may still be around to check your guesstimate. I’ll give a WAG that the orange curve will not have surpassed the green or red ones.
      And I’m an optimist.

  3. Willis – Thank you. One component you left out of the analysis. Corporate income taxes paid. Exxon/Mobil is the largest taxpayer in the US. In 2013, Exxon paid $31 billion in taxes. Chevron was #2 at $20 billion. ConocoPhillips was #7 at $7.9 billion. Needless to say, no solar or wind company was anywhere need the top of the list.

      • The “subsidies” to the oil companies are just lower taxes in some form. It is kind of like saying a mugger gave you something when they only took half of your cash.

      • The “subsidies” of oil companies are nothing more than depreciation allowances. Similar to the depreciation allowances every other company in the country gets.
        BTW, every other business expense gets deducted in the year in which it occurred. Depreciation requires that these business expenses get deducted over a number of years, which actually costs the companies compared to being able to deduct it immediately.
        So declaring that depreciation is a subsidy is a double lie.

    • leon,
      Good point. After income tax, the oil and gas industry are the greatest contributors to the US Treasury.
      Does anyone in their right mind think that subsidized renewables will fill this void once the fossil fuel industry is put out of business?
      These people are insane.

      • They are too full of themselves to understand concepts like money going from A to B and money going from B to A.
        Subsidiesology (the science of subsidies) makes climatology looks good, almost hard science.
        I suggest that we pay these people with “subsidies”, this goes like that:
        – Hello Mr UN Greeny. I have news for you that will please you. Let’s say you give me 10,000 $.
        – Why would I –
        – Never mind. We imagine. We suppose you give me –
        – But I really don’t want to gi-
        – Shut up. I talk. You give me money, and then you actually don’t.
        – So nothing really hap-
        – Really. Shut up. I have just given you 10,000 $…
        – You didn’t do –
        – No. Shut up. I make the rules now. I allowed you to not give me 10,000 $. It’s a subsidy.
        – But I wasn’t giving you any-
        – Shut up. I just imagined you did that. In my mind, you really were giving me money. And then I refused to take your money! So now you are richer.
        – But I have exactly as much…
        – You don’t get it. Are you really qualified as an expert in – what is your field, again?
        – The illegitimate ways government helps established energy prod-
        – OK whatever, that sound boring and I don’t care. You would have given me 10,000 $ –
        – But I never wanted to-
        – I have never said you wanted to, but you might have.
        – I would never give you money for no reason…
        – You would have, believe me. It doesn’t matter anyway cause I give you back the money. It’s a gift.
        – But this is my money I have given you, no, the money I never ga-
        – You would have. Now I give it back to you. Be happy!
        – But I don’t have more money than previously-
        – You don’t get it. You are richer over possibility.
        – I don’t feel richer…
        – In an alternate reality there is a poorer you. You have 10,000 $ more than this guy.
        – That isn’t very comforting.
        You have received a subsidy. You should thank me.
        – All right, thank you, now when will I get my salary?
        – You don’t. That’s the idea. You get subsidised. Why you also want a salary? Are you greddy?
        – Well I don’t-
        – And anyway your work is useless.

      • I suggest that you should take the current subsidies and print the amount in 1$ bills and burn the money as fuel for a power plant. Truly green energy and probably as efficient.

    • I also am curious how subsidies to fossil fuel were calculated by Willis.
      We need to know two things IMV. Net taxes paid after so called subsidies, tax breaks whatever. ( Within Net taxes paid include state and Fed gasoline taxes, as well as industry employees state and Fed taxes paid ) Second we need to know how much energy was produced.
      Bottom line, conventional energy producers pay X into the system for every unit of energy, and solar and wind leach X from the system.
      Add to that the cost increase solar and wind impose on ALL energy production, and we have a problem.

  4. I’m a Limey, living in Limeyland. I’m pretty pi**ed about the way that our politicians are berating all of us about AGW. The winter hasn’t even begun yet, but yesterday we were warned that power cuts were possible. Why? Because we have shut down a number of coal-fired power plants(AGW mitigation), and the weather, the English weather, was preventing all of our green energy provisions from providing the energy we had all been told that they would provide. It was foggy(so not much from our hugely expensive solar provision), and it was still(no wind. No wind, No turbine power). It’s not even cold yet, so thankfully we didn’t need the energy as much as we certainly will when the winter arrives. It will happen; this winter, power cuts in the world’s fifth largest economy! Why? Blind ignorance and panic, from politicians with not an ounce of sense between them. Not one with his/her own brain, all of them entranced by the AGW religion. It’s gonna be a tough winter!

      • Hey, I thought a subsidy was money that you don’t actually pay to government (or in government-mandated costs) that special interest activists think you should be paying. Isn’t that the correct, progressive definition?

      • The table Willis linked to does include tax breaks as a subsidy, indeed this constitutes the vast majority of conventional power generation so called subsidies. In reality conventional receives almost zero subsidies.
        In fact, not included in subsidies to solar and wind is the higher rate all consumers pay on ALL energy because solar and wind get first priority while conventional has to ramp down during high solar or wind production, and ramp up when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. Tbis, in conjunction with higher upfront costs for wind and solar, causes electricity prices to “skyrocket”.
        Also not included in the subsidies is the increase in the cost of every product brought to market.
        It us worse, much worse then we thought.

      • Willis, I thought you were big on checking sources and not repeating stuff just because someone authoritative declared it?

      • MarkW November 7, 2015 at 8:06 am

        Willis, I thought you were big on checking sources and not repeating stuff just because someone authoritative declared it?

        Thanks, Mark. I’ve used hundreds of sources in my posts, and no less than four cited sources in this post. So I have no idea which “sources” you are referring to, because you ignored the following request I made in the head post:

        My Usual Request: If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone’s interpretation of my words.

        Next, if you think that I’m using the wrong data, please repeat the analysis using the figures of your choice so we can see what difference it makes. You’ve ignored the second of my requests above, viz:

        My New Request: If you think that e.g. I’m using the wrong method on the wrong dataset, please educate me and others by demonstrating the proper use of the right method on the right dataset. Simply claiming I’m wrong doesn’t advance the discussion.

        Best regards, I await the analysis with your chosen data.
        w.

  5. No, it’s past time to stop throwing any of our money at anything. The people doing the throwing, as enabled by the people doing the voting, are all just a gang of thieves.
    A classic example of the Gell-Mann reading the newspaper effect.

    • I personally like ”nearly perpetual energy”, which of course can come from only one source: the ”Great Fusion Reactor” in the sky. #Sol#
      From her fiery demeanor, comes the wind, the wave. From the oceans’ heated surface, comes water vapor, which dutifully condenses to rain and snow in the high mountains. Entrained and corralled, it generates copious power and waters our parched fields. Some cuckoos have felt opportunity in putting up grand windmills to tap the Sun’s windy zephyrs. All’s well until the weather’s good, or bad. Then it all goes to poo.
      Solar – of any ‘direct’ type (PV, ST, you name it) is our one and only perpetual energy source. At least on human timescales. It would be well to tap it – especially if #and when# we find a way to contour civilization’s demand for her powerful rays to match when they’re available. Or store the stuff someway practically. But we also must not expect #too# much from Ol’ Sol.
      Ra takes a good slumber every evening, putting out the fire to have a nice nap. This – to me – is where the #other# near-perpetual energy sources come into play. Yep, #hydro# is good – if there’s opportunity ~and sufficiency~ to make use of it. But so’s #nuclear# and of somewhat more rare provenance, Zephyr power. They’re quite good, along with other (ultimately) sun-driven reservoirs. But really, in the end … we should just quit wasting (“perpetually investing”) money in research that goes essentially nowhere, and tap more of what’s coming down ”for free” every minute of the year. Concentrate the investment into finding ways to losslessly (and inexpensively) transmit the power ’round the world’, and even direct-solar becomes compelling.
      Perpetual power.
      Sol.
      (And yes, I fully expect to be dissed mercilessly. Yet it remains: even #coal# is most probably stored #Sol# power, from millions of years ago. Perpetual!!!)

      • I personally like ”nearly perpetual energy”, which of course can come from only one source: the ”Great Fusion Reactor” in the sky.

        And I object. Again.
        The energy coming from the Great Fusion Reactor can be labelled “nearly perpetual” or “free” or “fatal” or “no faster depletion” energy, but these labels apply to the solar rays only.
        The “tapped” energy (heat in a fluid or electric current) depends on tapping system: a collecting device exposed to the insults of nature, plus a (usually expensive) converting device. The making, monitoring, cleaning, and repairing of these devices require materials, energy and workers. The building or mining of materials require energy and materials, etc. (I don’t want to back to the bronze age, but I guess morally I could.)
        Not only all these transformations used “fossil fuels”, they also involve other irreversible transformations of the environment. Of course, none of these has any impact on the depletion rate of the Great Fusion Reactor (but burning fuel (fossil or “biomass” ie “renewable carbon”) could theoretically impact transparency of the atmosphere or cloud formation and the amount of light arriving on the surface), justifying the “renewable” label.
        I can’t decide if the ecoloons are getting that when they exclude (or put appart) “big hydro” from “renewables”. Dams can have a large impact on the local fauna, on the dynamic of sand, of the distribution of heavy metals naturally transported by rivers, etc. (I am not mentioning the million people displaced by Three Rivers because ecoloons don’t care about people, except as PR expandable tools.)
        The impact of large dams is hard to ignore. They are big objects. (It’s easier to ignore many small objects or events even if their cumulative effect is much larger.)
        So they don’t ignore these effects, which apparently cancels the “renewable” label. But the logic behind this is never explained: knowing that big dams are “bad” isn’t useful, we need to know what is and isn’t “bad”. There is no “approved” bad renewables vs. good renewables scale.

  6. My Usual Request: If you disagree with me…

    I can’t disagree, Willis, particularly with Figure 1 staring me in the face.

  7. Just to update your data – the cost of the clean water is $24.6 billion according to WHO. Thanks for the reminder, by the way. The challenge is that the beneficiaries of the wind and solar are rent-seekers and politicians and the beneficiaries of the clean water are poor people, (and some rent-seekers in foreign lands). Here is the link to the WHO estimates: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/wsh0404summary/en/

  8. coal was subsidized about a billion dollars. Natural gas and oil, about $2.3 billion.
    ***************************
    iirc most of this includes physical/plant depreciation which many people like to count as a subsidy even though its same tax writeoff every company can use.

    • I, too, would like to see a breakdown of so-called oil, gas, coal and nuclear subsidies. If they include the depletion allowance which is, as dmacleo points out, the equivalent the capital depreciation allowance every business in America enjoys, it should not be classified as a subsidy comparable to the investment tax credits and souped up, five-year-accelerated-depreciation that renewable energy projects enjoy.

      • One other thing that is often inappropriately cited as a subsidy for oil is allowing companies to write off unrecoverable costs of drilling, such as chemicals, mud, labor, fuel, etc., in the year in which they are incurred rather than amortizing the losses over a longer period of time.

        • The problem with the non-tax=subsidies approach is that there is no objective, common, consensual or scientific approach to taxing. The level of tax is the result of economic simulation, economic experiments, culture, history, politics dynamics, and bargaining (or lobbying or bribes, it doesn’t matter here).
          Tax law is so complex even experts can get it wrong or disagree. Every country has different rules. The same business paying the exact same amount could be subsidies in one country and hyper-taxed in another.
          In France, diesel is less taxed than gasoline because Peugeot Citroën’s president managed to convince François Mitterrand that it was a good thing to favor diesel compared to gasoline (and favoritism is not the same as subsidisation, even according to the non-tax definition). This is history.
          In France, home heating fuel “fioul” is called “the red”, cause it’s red. It’s home fuel. It isn’t car fuel, cause it’s red. “Gasoil” (car fuel) is more expensive, cause not red. See the logic? So red means not for public road. So non-red means you paid for the road (of course the taxes raised on car fuel are several times the money spent on roads, and that amount is getting smaller), and this isn’t a carbon or pollution tax.
          What about electric cars? They use “red” electricity (normally taxed home electricity). Legally. No road tax.
          So existing French tax system has no consistency what-so-ever. (I bet you could make similar points in most developed countries.) You could choose any baseline and observe either more and less taxes.
          There is no agreement on the correct, moral, or optimal level of taxes.

      • Willis left a link,and it does include tax breaks, which are the vast majority of the so called subsidies to conventional.

      • Hell, they usually include the discounts given to elderly, disabled and poor people to help them with their energy costs. You can bet your sweet patootie that capital plant depreciation allowances, asset depletion allowances and any other kind of normal extractive/industrial allowance is written up as a subsidy.
        You can also guarantee they never deduct the taxes raised on oil, gas, coal, petrol and diesel from their concept of fossil fuel subsidies.
        The lies are just immense and continuing which is one indicator as to why you can be certain this whole thing, AGW, is nonsense.

    • From Willis’ reference: “Tax expenditures. These are largely provisions found in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC, or Tax Code)—Title 26 of the United States Code—that reduce the tax liability of firms or individuals who take specified actions that affect energy production, distribution, transmission, consumption, or conservation.”
      These amounted to about 4 billion total for all non-renewable in 2013. The trade off for Exxon’s 30 billion paid taxes and 4 billion is a good deal.
      Note in the reference that of renewables total electricity produced of 13.1% in 2013, hydro was over half that total. Greens want more renewables but want to get rid of dams.

      • I paid about 30% of my income in taxes last year. By the logic of some, that means that the govt subsidized me by 70%.

    • for some reason didn’t see the link to ES2 table yesterday, at a quick look (I am sick so please forgive mistakes) seems they are including the tax writeoffs (basically non-direct subsidies) as the same as the direct subsidies green energies gets.
      but I may be wrong everything pretty blurry today

  9. I’m glad to see the BP data is coming out. EIA through several years ago is just not current enough to be useful in thinking about today, much less tomorrow. I’m exploring the energy (electricity) demand to support Big Data and the Internet of Everything as information moves to the Clouds (including TV, medicine, autonomous transportation …).
    Your graph, (Figure 1), clearly illustrates the chasm between that supply and demand and shows the monumental discrepancy between the reality and the absurd and ignorant notion that all this can work with renewables. Thanks.
    I sincerely feel for our European neighbors with so much solar and wind shoved onto them in addition to shuttering power plants and their strangely growing population.

  10. This is the best commentary against the push for solar and wind I’ve seen….they needed to take that 100 billion and invested it into something usefull like how to get the energy out of the atom.

  11. @Willis: Are the subsidies to coal, oil & gas really to keep them in business or are they tax break incentives to move their business one place or another? I can’t figure out how anyone could justify an actual subsidy for an industry that doesn’t need them. I feel like the DOE might be calling everything a subsidy to cover up the essential difference between industries.

  12. I don’t disagree exactly, but would back the point in time up to April 7, 1977, when President Carter decided, on behalf of us all without Congressional debate, that the United States would never recycle/reprocess nuclear waste. This required more mining for uranium, and afforded less recovery of the plutonium already being made in old-style reactors, and foreclosed the design of “breeder” reactors. In short, we had a working technology (uranium), a stepping stone ahead (waste recovery) and a path forward, (breeders) and Carter closed the door.

  13. Ah Yes, the old “Moral Equivalent of War” speech. I remember it well, as a younger lad I believed it. I even worked a co-op stint in college at a “solar energy lab” (said lab is still subsidized and has never made a profit on anything in 4 decades).
    It was also called the “MEOW” speech (Moral Equivalent Of War). And in hindsight (always the clearest vision available) it was just a silly meow after all. And what exactly is the “Exit Strategy” in this “War” ? Do we declare victory when nobody has any energy at any price ? That seems very unpleasant what with cold houses, little food and no water (hot or cold).
    Oh, and you forgot the “Syn-Fuels” debacle, a few odd billions flushed on that.
    Heck, the major oil companies have decided they can slow down the drilling for a while until prices come back up a bit (Shell pulling out of the Arctic).
    My hometown had a “perpetual flame” (fueled with natural gas) to commemorate the sons of the town that died fighting for the USA. That had to be turned off in the 1970’s because “We’re running out of natural gas”. Now we can hardly get rid of the NG fast enough.
    And just a question for everybody; How much energy could the US Department of Energy produce if it actually produced energy instead of hot air ???
    Cheers, KevinK.

  14. In 2013, coal was subsidized about a billion dollars. Natural gas and oil, about $2.3 billion. Nuclear got about $1.7 billion. Total, about $5.0 billion dollars.

    If they’re so successful, why do these technologies need subsidies at all? There’s an easy $5B saving removing those subsidies right there.

    • Their subsidies come in the form of depletion allowance and depreciation which are forms of capital recovery. Capital recovery in one form or another is allowed every business. The subsidies allowed for renewables come in the form of tax credits and highly accelerated depreciation which gives them the feel and odor of tax-loopholes.

      • So to understand the numbers properly we need to take account of the normal tax rules that are applicable to every business. Not only that, plenty of businesses are given additional tax breaks for various reasons. Take some of the primary industries for example. As I understand it, the US sugar industry is heavily subsidised too. Or at least it used to be…I haven’t looked recently.

      • Sugar is subsidized by making it illegal to import sugar below a certain price. Thus guaranteeing an above market price for US grown sugar.

  15. It’s easy to see from that graph why “Big Oil” is so eagerly trying to resist the competition that it is experiencing from the spectacular rise of solar and wind energy provision.
    Wind and solar must be really carving a huge chunk out of their market share.
    If I was “Big Oil” then I’d be looking at that graph and screaming, “O..M..G, we’ve gotta do something about this, before wind and solar shut us down for good. Let’s bribe some internet bloggers to create a fog of doubt surrounded key facts concerning the consensus on global warming”…
    (Bigtime sarc.)

  16. I must make a couple of observations here.
    Solar energy in particular is a viable energy source, particularly for space heating and domestic hot water.
    That being said, virtually all of the money thrown at the situation has/is going into active solutions that depend on conventional sources for backup or operating energy. The idea that you must put a meter on it and charge someone for its use is a killer because of the intermittent nature of the source. Passive solar for space heating and DHW works just fine whether there is a person monitoring it or any electricity at all. Putting a meter on the sun or wind is just not going to work.

    • What you are saying is that solar is an end user energy source. But, it can never support industry or a grid with any reliability. It can be used in passive heating of buildings (homes) and end user electricity to lower electricity bills, but by no means is the house independent of the grid unless the homeowner only uses electricity when the sun is shining. The stupid idea that wind and solar could run the electrical grid is just stupid and is a claim aimed to dupe the unthinking public into supporting this grandiose idiotic fantasy.

    • One proviso, before determining if solar heating is viable, you have to look at the local climate. In Miami, it’s viable pretty much all year round. In Montana, much less so. As you get further north, eventually you reach the point where the amount of energy you gain from such a system is not enough to justify the cost of building it.

    • Well done Willis, it is the sheer waste of money and poor use of resources to chase a pipe dream that drive me wild.
      Why can’t they take away the subsidies and offer 5 million dollar prizes for best energy designs or support research into existing technology to create cars that flies above ground,thus doing away with roads.
      They could just use the subsidy to build at least ONE viable Thorium reactor and ONE Aneutronic Fusion reactor.

      • Sunsettommy, the US has already demonstrated a viable reactor primed with Thorium , some 50 years ago.
        When this topic came up again a few days ago I looked it up in Wiki and , whilst the physics is a bit light the section on background and history is very revealing . Let me quote just the start of it :
        -“After World War II, uranium-based nuclear reactors were built to produce electricity. These were similar to the reactor designs that produced material for nuclear weapons. During that period, the government of the United States also built an experimental molten salt reactor using U-233 fuel, the fissile material created by bombarding thorium with neutrons. The reactor, built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operated critical for roughly 15000 hours from 1965 to 1969. In 1968, Nobel laureate and discoverer of Plutonium, Glenn Seaborg, publicly announced to the Atomic Energy Commission, of which he was chairman, that the thorium-based reactor had been successfully developed and tested:
        “So far the molten-salt reactor experiment has operated successfully and has earned a reputation for reliability. I think that some day the world will have commercial power reactors of both the uranium-plutonium and the thorium-uranium fuel cycle type.[7]”
        In 1973, however, the U.S. government shut down all thorium-related nuclear research—which had by then been ongoing for approximately twenty years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The reasons were that uranium breeder reactors were more efficient, the research was proven, and byproducts could be used to make nuclear weapons. In Moir and Teller’s opinion, the decision to stop development of thorium reactors, at least as a backup option, “was an excusable mistake.”[4]” –
        There is more of interest in the rest of the article , including a list of nations experimenting with this type of reactor- including , incredibly, UK – but I have yet to check that unlikely assertion.

      • Thorium in a conventional fuel rod reactor sounds more practical than the molten salt experiment. The MSR is fine until you examine ways of reprocessing the waste. It is a chemistry nightmare and unlikely to be solved using existing technology.
        I like the idea of a prize for tech inovation. Look at the progress with space launches such as Spaceship One.

  17. Jimmy Carter: “ we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil that it can produce.
    Well, translating 1980 to 2015, at least he got that part right. We’re now demanding more oil that we can indeed produce. Amazing. Jimmy must have received a prophecy about fracking.

  18. I was wondering where the horrible Ethanol Mandate fits in to all this. Then I realized, as one of the little people, I just have to pay.
    Then there is creative accounting, like this little gem: (from USEIA, link Table ES2)

    Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC). In FY 2010, blends of ethanol and gasoline were eligible for a credit of 45 cents per gallon of ethanol used to produce the blend, resulting in a tax expenditure of nearly $6 billion.

    So the govt. makes a legal demand that we have to buy something, then adds to the injury by slapping a tax on the product. Then the govt. waives a portion of the tax and claims a “tax expenditure”, and “subsidy”.
    I wonder how much of the FF “subsidies” are of this, or a similar nature.
    The enviros howl about FF subsidies, but when you look, it is generally stuff like this.
    Let’s all help out the accountants at Greenpeace!
    Calculate the Subsidy to Big Oil if the Ethanol Mandate was repealed, and the tax no longer had to be paid.
    Your answer below:

    • TonyL add to this that cheaper ethanol from outside the US has a tariff so we tax payers are not allowed to benefit from lower available product the problem is magnified.

  19. And now the NY Attorney General is going after Exxon Mobil for “possible climate change lies.” We deserve to freeze and be forced to walk everywhere and to burn wood for cooking fuel. This climate crusade is coming dangerously close to complete insanity. Thanks for another timely post.

    • The green Progressives forget how energy companies such as Exxon have historically contributed significantly to our well being via research and engineering, especially in the WW II effort by providing sufficient high octane gasoline for our Air Force to defeat Germany and Japan. Without this technology the would have been a shortage of fuel and possibly a lost war. The history of the important technology development starting 7 decades ago is here:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfiLjYc8n38
      Of course there are other technology developments but this one is the most important and still in use today.

  20. Willis, to get a true comparative cost of subsidies, divide the subsidies by the amount of power each sector produces. Dollars of subsidy per kW-hr of electricity produced. The true disparity between fossil fuel and “renewables” subsidies will become even more starkly obvious.
    I remember the start of subsidized wind power here in California. The touted idea was subsidies will help the industry compete until the technology improved enough so that subsidies became unnecessary. I don’t know of any other fledgling industry that received such favored treatment. Did governments subsidize transistors? Or personal computers? Or developing trains, planes, and automobiles? Nope. Subsizing industry is a clear sign of alternative thinking.
    Let’s also note that the technological improvements have not happened, after 40 years. Let’s see, forty years of unsubsidized automobiles went from the Stanhope Eclipse to the Pontiac Torpedo.
    And aircraft? Forty unsubsidized years went from the rear-engined single-seat biplane to the Beech model 18B, the Douglas DC-3A, and the Vought XF4U-1 fighter.
    The lessons are obvious. Governments can’t pick technological winners. A winning technology doesn’t need government subsidies. And both wind and solar have abysmally failed the promises made on their behalf. The whole “renewables” enterprise of large-scale energy production should be abandoned, imMediately. Subsidized solar and wind power: a modern morality lesson in how to get rich being a failure. At least crony capitalism produces something people can use. Crony eco-sacralism, not so much.

    • Pat Frank says:
      Governments can’t pick technological winners. A winning technology doesn’t need government subsidies.
      That says it all. Subsidies are cronyism.

    • That wonderful biplane with the fine cambered wings is the Silver Dart, 1909. The XF4U Corsair flew in 1940, only 31 years later. Seven years later, the first flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet.
      http://www.aviation-history.com/boeing/b47.htm
      That is a grand total of 38 years. In the same time frame, wind and solar have done absolutely nothing.

      • I was a little surprised that aircraft progress wasn’t measured from the start of the Wright Flyer in 1903. That would put the Corsair closer to the 40 year comparison. The better comparison might have been from the Wright Flyer to the Bell P-59 Jet fighter, which first flew in 1942, or the Me 262, which also first flew (with yet engines) in 1942, the point being that 40 years took us from the dawn of flight to the dawn of the jet age.
        But some stimulus, if not actual subsidization, occurred in the aviation industry from government research and procurement. Compare this, perhaps, to the role of NASA in its early years to stimulating technological progress. I suspect many supporters of subsidies of renewables view these subsidies as somehow equivalent to other kinds of government actions in support of technological or industrial development. Consider as well land grants that stimulated the transcontinental railroads, or the stimulus effect of the Interstate Highway system on truck transport.
        Government stimulus can work if the technology is viable. What we see here is that for its stated purpose — replacing fossil fuels — wind and solar are not viable, and government stimulus is an evil waste of taxpayer resources.

      • blcjr:
        You conclude

        Government stimulus can work if the technology is viable. What we see here is that for its stated purpose — replacing fossil fuels — wind and solar are not viable, and government stimulus is an evil waste of taxpayer resources.

        Yes, well said. Thankyou.
        I would add to your argument about facilitation of new technology that government subsidy of demonstration projects has two benefits and is also warranted.
        Underwriting the novelty cost removes an inhibition introduction of new technology.
        There are unforeseeable risks in introducing a novel technology (using aviation as example, the de Haviland Comet crashes) and this is why ‘being second’ is often best when a new technology is adopted. Hence, investors require a premium interest rate to compensate for the risk of ‘being first’ and this delays introduction of technologies to the market. A government can subsidise a demonstration project (hypothetically, e.g. the first windfarm) by underwriting the novelty cost. This demonstrates the success or problems of the technology to the market, and the underwriting costs nothing if unforeseen problems do not occur. Thus, at no cost a beneficial new technology is more rapidly adopted by subsidising a demonstration.
        Secondly, the demonstration with underwritten novelty risk both
        (a) with no cost, removes the delay to adoption of beneficial technologies provided by novelty risk
        while
        (b) for a relatively little one-off cost, the underwriting removes any justification for long-term subsidies (such as those being provided to wind farms) by demonstrating when a novel technology is flawed.
        Richard

  21. There are other budget numbers provided for agencies that are much higher probably for a good reason.
    I ask the question “what results have the DOE in Energy production considering the total over many years
    DOE budget for FY 2014 is $28,4 Billion
    http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/04/f0/FY14_DOE_Budget_Highlights_Final.pdf
    Over $ 20 billion per year for climate change which has doubled since 2008
    https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43227.pdf
    The total $$$ are staggering over the years since Carter

  22. Willis: Also remember when electric utility companies buy energy from solar sources they are required by law in most states to pay close to retail or more per Kw Hr, but they only save the cost of fuel which is much less. So they must raise the rates on all customers to make up the difference. Another subsidy, but not disclosed.

    • Richard, a good point, but it is worse than that. In NJ the utilities must purchase renewable electricity on an exchange which can be very expensive. Often the price is in the order of 50+ cents per KWH.
      Because of this the the cost of electricity to the consumer has risen dramatically.

      • In New England, distributor buy through ISO-NE. At night the price is often $20/Mwh or so. During peak times in the winter, it goes up to $200-300/Mwh. You can see the real-time activity at http://www.iso-ne.com/isoexpress/
        It also says right now 11% of our electricity is coming from renewables, of that, 16% is wind, so that’s about 2% overall. Wood and refuse are 81% of the renewables.

      • “Traders watched in amazement as prices surged, with the grid paying £2,500 per MWh to one operator, Severn Power, as it bought in emergency supplies; the usual going rate is around £60.”
        Try $3.78 per KWhr
        No that will make you eyes water

  23. Hi Willis. Let me make a couple of points:
    1. You seem to believe that the supply of fossil fuels is unlimited. Unless you believe in a deus ex machina like Thomas Gold’s “Deep Oil” theories (Surely that should be Deep Gas. Probably too hot for complex hydrocarbons once you get down a few tens of kilometers) unlimited fossil fuels seems impossible. We can discuss Gold if you wish. A different thread might be appropriate. Suffice it to say that I’ve never encountered a geologist who thought Gold’s ideas were stupid, but I’ve also never encountered one who thought they were right — at least with regard to the coal, oil and natural gas deposits currently being exploited.
    2. How much fossil fuel is available? Really, no one knows. Very likely a century’s worth. Probably several centuries worth. But keep in mind that the price of those fuels is almost certainly going to increase on average as we are forced to exploit lower grade deposits.
    3. As an aside, Carter was right about oil y’know. Even with the recent modest improvements in production due to hydraulic fracturing, the US is importing something like 9 million barrels of oil every day (EIA, recent. Seems a bit high. Probably ignores oil imported-refined then exported). In point of fact, the US ran out of domestic oil decades ago, and is running on foreign oil purchased with borrowed money. I’m guessing that the borrowed money part of that is going to turn out to be a bad idea in the very long run. But that’s tangential.
    4. There aren’t a lot of non-fossil fuel resources with enough potential capacity to eventually replace fossil fuels. Hydroelectric, solar, wind, nuclear — maybe eventually OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion).
    4.1 Hydro is fine since most people (including me) are willing to ignore the environmental problems. But it’s limited by topography, water availability, geology and economics (e.g. A dam across the Potomac at Harpers Ferry isn’t going to happen because of the cost of acquiring the land that would be flooded). Hydro probably can’t provide more than 5%-10% of humanity’s needs.
    4.2 Nuclear is fine. Except that nuclear power plants are going to be run at times by lunatics, fools or, perhaps worse, MBAs. We just don’t have a design for a nuclear fission plant that can safely be left in the hands of a covey of ivy-league MBAs. Further, the plant must shut itself down safely in the event of disaster, must generate little or no significant radioactive waste (our politicians have proved to be incapable of solving the waste disposal problem). And finally, the fuel must not be refinable into weapons grade material. Can such a plant be designed, built and tested? I have no idea. But frankly, no one except maybe the Chinese and Indians seems even to be trying.
    (Aside. The failure of governments pretty much everywhere to prioritize designing and proofing an unconditionally safe nuclear power plant is pretty deplorable).
    4.3 Fusion? Who knows? Ask me again in twenty years. For now, 0 is (unfortunately) a not unreasonable projection for the foreseeable future
    4.4 So we are left with solar and wind.
    5. You’re right that solar and wind are currently pretty much completely incapable of doing what is expected by “environmentalists”. Without vast amounts of inexpensive energy storage. they can’t be matched to most loads. How much energy storage? How the hell would I know? Maybe 100 Twh for the US (WAG 600Gw*24hrs*7 days)? = 2000 Twh for the 10 billion folks who will likely be around in 2100. More than that if fossil fuels usage for heating and transportation is to be cut back. Cost? I dunno — Many trillions of dollars. Not something I can work out in a hurry but it looks to be a genuinely huge investment. Anyone got good figures for any of this?)
    BTW, I’m very skeptical that there is either enough water or enough available sites to do hundreds of Twh of pumped storage even if the money were available. And pumped storage seems to be the only show in town capable of actually storing vast amounts of energy for cloudy days when the wind isn’t blowing.
    No amount of specious bookkeeping is going to alter the flaws in wind and solar. If the bloody things were cost effective, it wouldn’t be necessary to bribe people to build them.
    6 Green “Planning” seems to assume that fossil fuel plants will somehow magically be there when the sun and wind aren’t available. Not all that likely. At least not without more incentives (i.e. bribes). So the current plans made by our best minds have us paying people to build expensive intermittent power sources then paying other people to bail them out when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Who is going to pay for all that? I’m sure that in the minds of environmentalists, they are going to tax Warren Buffet, the Koch brothers et. al. What will actually happen is that Mr Buffet and the Koch brothers will be the folks they are paying both to build the wind farms/solar array, and the fossil fuel powered backups. The funds to pay for all this will be extracted from the users.
    7. In my opinion, figuring out how to store wind and solar power cost effectively has to be be the keystone of any sane plan to replace fossil fuels in most applications. It isn’t even considered in current plans except as an afterthought.. So I have to conclude that the folks formulating energy policies are pretty much clueless.

    • Sorry to break your string, but I’m a petroleum geologist with 30 years of experience with the highest levels of oil and gas theory and execution.
      Thomas Gold’s theories are stupid.
      The resource pyramid for fossil fuels is very real however, and the potential for production by horizontal fracking of source rocks is immense. The Bakken and Eagle Ford are not unique to the USA.

      • The Bakken and Eagle Ford are not unique to the USA.

        Fortunately not. Which is damn good thing. However, it’s not clear to me how well distributed tight shales with recoverable hydrocarbons are. We do know that a disproportionate share of world’s easily recoverable oil and gas is found in the small geographic region around the Persian Gulf. And it seems that a disproportionate share of the world’s coal is found in the US. It’s possible that the US and Canada are fortunate enough to be sitting on unusually large deposits of tight shales shales with recoverable hydrocarbons. We’ll know more in a decade or two.

    • 4.3 Fusion? Who knows? Ask me again in twenty years. For now, 0 is (unfortunately) a not unreasonable projection for the foreseeable future

      Depends on your definition of fusion.
      I haven’t commented much on E-Cat and LENR stuff lately, but Rossi and company are in a year long run of a 1 MW process heat system, see http://www.e-catworld.com/2015/11/01/rossi-explains-positive-or-negative/
      Airbus has taken an interest in LENR and is hosting conferences! Seems a bit premature to me, but I’m certain a lot of big companies have very active R&D projects going on but aren’t talking about them. Maybe Airbus knows some of them.

      • Ric – yes there are approaches to fusion other than Tokamak magnetic bottles. But Tokamak is where the governments of the world have currently placed their bets. I have to have doubts about Tokamak. Freeman Dyson — who surely knows more about fusion than I do (Not hard) — said recently that Tokamak and similar devices probably aren’t going to work in practice. Not now. Not ever. So we’re possibly left with alternatives that may or may not prove out. And even if a design that works and doesn’t have too many drawbacks is identified, I’m guessing that a decade or more will be required to go from working prototype to roll out of commercial plants.

    • Wind and solar are a wasteful money pit. The ocean waves and tides are a huge power source, not to generate electricity but used as a power to pump the ocean water to holding dams, then use it for hydro.
      Not dependent on rain fall, the ocean is going to waste. LA has some serious elevations not far out of town, getting real possible stuff like this passed the greens is the biggest hurdle. As an engineer I find that no one seems to have tried this idea. The engineering is simple and reliable.

      • Wayne. I’m not sure about waves other than the obvious problem that if you are going to harvest the energy from 100 km of coastline, you are probably going to need a facility 100km long. And it has to be able to deal with salt water which is kind of corrosive and to withstand whopping great storms. I’ve never seen a credible engineering estimate of how much power is available from waves. Have you?
        Tidal energy? Turns out to be analyzable as an oddball form of hydro electric. It can work (Google ‘LaRance power’). The problem is that pragmatically, you need a site with high tides and you then need to build a dam. The problem is that while tides move a lot of water, there’s not much pressure head and the power production is likely to be pretty limited overall. I’d class it as something like geothermal. Great if your neighborhood is gifted with the right situation. But not the salvation of mankind.
        La Rance is paid for and generates a couple of GWh every day quite cheaply. But it also has 8 meter tides to work with. It is certainly one of the best sites for tidal power in Western Europe.

      • Not talking tides, I,m talking floatation, take a tethered float that can carry 50 ton with no load on it it will pull upward 50 ton with every swell, one little float and a shipload of HP for pumping. Simple pump engineering like an old windmill bore pump with a stroke to match all possible tidal and swell heights attached to the ocean floor. the floats could be hooked up in daisy chains. Modern materials are no problem with salt water.

    • Your assessment of nuclear is not accurate. Molten salt reactors invented in the 1960’s and being developed currently in several countries are completely safe regardless of the operator and can be mass produced for a lower capital cost than a coal plant. Take a look at any of these; Thorcon power, Transatomic power, Terrestrial energy, Moltex, or Flibe. There are many more beyond these.

      • Another words, your safe cheap power plants, like pebble beds and god knows what else, currently only exist on paper. Get back to me when/if they materialize and we have some real data on costs, reliability, unexpected problems, etc.
        Thorium also can be used to produce nuclear bomb grade U233. Perhaps not the ideal fissionable for such devices, but a working bomb can be built. India reportedlydetonated a small U233 device a few years ago. See http://wmdjunction.com/121031_thorium_reactors.htm
        Nothing against Thorium. Maybe it’s the future. But it has not yet demonstrated itself to be ready for prime time.

    • A couple hundred years for oil, a few thousand years for coal.
      It’s way to soon to start worrying about what will replace either.
      The technology of 200 and 1000 years from now is something that none of us can predict. So stop making plans for what our great-great-great-great-great grandchildren are going to d.

  24. All of those billions of $$$ thrown at two near useless energy sources when there are so many people in the world (as Willis said) have no access to clean water, sanitation and electricity.
    This is what happens when the wrong people stomp their feet and pound on the table the hardest and yell the loudest at politicians demanding to be heard. And their renewable energy ideas were terribly bad ones from the very beginning.
    There probably was no crime committed here although it sure seems as though there should have been.

  25. “The 1973 gasoline lines are gone”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The Arab Oil Embargo was a Muslim Arab response to getting their buts kicked by the Israelis.
    Yom Kippur 1973 coalition, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, et al – the usual suspects, meet your new boss – ISIS.

  26. Too bad real journalism no longer exists in the main stream media to do similar research and reporting.

  27. It must be said that carter was not an anti-coal or anti-emission activist.
    one of the things he threw money at was coal gasification, a project from which i received some personal benefit while at the colorado school of mines in golden colorado.
    by today’s agw era standards the coal gasification process is an emissions nightmare scenario.

  28. It seems like a waste to burn natural gas to make electricity when it is ideally suited for heating homes when we have all this coal which is only good for electricity. When I grew up in the heart of the city of St. Paul Minnesota in the late 1930s we had no natural gas and only cooking gas (made from coal and distributed). We had a coal burning furnace in the basement. Every week or so we had coal delivered down a chute inserted in a basement window moving the coal into the coal bin room. The truck driver looked black, but he was not an African American. Women, when hanging out clothes to dry, worried about coal dust.
    Many years later we got natural gas distributed. What a blessing it seemed. And a furnace with a thermostat too! And now we are using this gas to make electricity and leaving coal in the ground, a good energy source in cleaned up power generation plants. A combination of nuclear and coal is as good as all natural gas regarding CO2.

  29. But, sinners must repent.
    The price, is whatever will be accepted before the torches and pitchforks arise.
    Just about at that price point.

  30. Little Georgia Peanut Farmer Jimmy Carter has no where to hide!
    When President Jimmy Carter took office in January 1977, he inherited a unique relationship with the shah of Iran, who had been returned to his throne by a U.S.-British covert action and who had accepted the role of protecting U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf. The shah had some of the most sophisticated arms in the U.S. inventory.
    When the monarchy was overthrown, the United States and other countries in the world got their first real introduction to radical political Islam, not only during the revolution against the shah but also in the 444-day captivity of American diplomats in Tehran. That experience shaped the U.S. relationship with Iran for decades thereafter.
    The Algiers Accords ending the hostage crisis returned only a fraction of Iran’s frozen assets. It created a claims tribunal that settled hundreds of U.S. claims against Tehran. Those costs, plus Iran’s alienation from much of the world, suggests the hostage model is not likely to be repeated.
    The Carter administration’s effort to build an independent military capability in the Gulf established the initial framework that was completed by its successors.
    And doomed.
    ISIS is the James Earl Carter LOV Child with an Iranian prostitute.
    Snicker Snicker

  31. Now look at the subsidies in terms of Dollars/per kWh or mWh generated. – The numbers for Wind and Solar are staggering.
    Also in table ES2, “Tax Expenditures” is actually deprecation, other state and local taxes and many other normal business expenses e.g. buying new equipment, computers, etc. The same thing they give to every manufacturing, retail, service and any other “business.” It is just called a subsidy because it makes big oil and gas look like they get a BIG subsidy and are somehow shirking on their taxes.

  32. You’re not wrong. Perhaps your most powerful article yet; the facts are simply stunning.
    Please treat yourself to a cookie or something. It was well earned and thank you!

  33. The amount of subsidies needs to be made visible to the public in terms that they understand. As an example, a Finnish website counts the amount of subsidies paid to wind energy companies by every second, day, month and year: http://tuulivahinko.fi/
    It’s only available in Finnish but you get the idea due to the visual design

  34. Don K
    If you think nuclear power is dangerous, you probably don’t want to be anywhere near if any significant part of that 2000 Twh of storage shorts out, suffers a small meteor impact, or is seriously mismanaged by the mba’s who will undoubtedly be running those facilities as well.

    • Ooh, Ooh, I Know, I Know!
      2000 Twh = 1,721 MT
      If even a trivially small portion shorted out, the blast would level a medium sized city.
      Oh course, you would want to place this energy storage as close to your population centers as possible to minimize transmission losses.

    • Stu
      Right now, today, if humanity HAD to build hundreds of Twh of electrical storage, it’d probably have to be hydroelectric pumped storage. Of course, there’s not enough water, not enough sites, and not enough money to do that. But shorting out isn’t realistically a danger. However, Like any dam, there is a risk that some of them will fail. Probably shouldn’t do pumped storage upstream from cities.
      TonyL, Transmission losses probably aren’t that big a deal. Southern California has LOTS of people and adequate electricity despite the fact that it’s almost all imported from many hundreds of kilometers away. What’s going to bail my fellow Vermonters out when they eventually discover the hard way that wind and solar don’t work very well (especially at 45 degrees N latitude) is electricity from rivers in Northern Quebec.

  35. A couple of thoughts on this.
    For a start we need to understand what subsidies are. The left deliberately confuses the issue by including tax breaks as subsidies. They are not. A subsidy is a NET flow of money or energy into something. This means that not everything can be subsidised because something has to carry the burden. You can only subsidize something by ranking up the price on something cheaper. Or to put it another way, you cannot subsidize the cheapest energy source. At the moment fossil is the cheapest.
    I would like to see the figures for net tax and net subsidy for all energy sources. I expect that solar and wind receive more subsidy than they pay in tax.
    I can make the case that the cost of something is a very good measure of the energy that has gone into producing it and so that tells me that wind and solar therefore receiveyan energy subsidy from fossil.
    That means that we are using real energy just to run what I consider to be performance art or religious ritual, depending how you want to look at it. We would use less fossil fuel if we get rid of wind and solar.

    • Look at nuclear power. By law, the NRC must recover, through fees to applicants and licensees, 90 percent of its budget. That is about $5,000,000 per NPP, (and every other facility that uses radioactive material has fee they pay.) How if tax breaks are a subsidy, what is this fee? Why do they not subtract that from the tax break in figuring out subsidies. There is also a fee for the never approved Yucca Mt. storage facility, about a 1/10 of a cent per kWh (suspended until they get their act together). The total collected now totals over $30 Billion. Why is that ignored – it is just like a tax.
      Set up some fees like that for the Airline Industry and see what happens to the cost of your plane ticket. The present licensing fee is only $5.00 per plane, regardless of size/number of passengers. Compare that with $5 Million for a NPP. Why does the airline industry get a “subsidy” and then complain about the REAL CASH given to the railroad industry? Shouldn’t they be supporting the cost of operating the FAA and the NTSB?

      • And why don’t airline crew don’t have to carry a dosimeter?
        Heck, why don’t all the people travelling by plane wear a dosimeter?
        Will someone think of the children?

  36. From http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/nancy-pfotenhauer/2014/05/12/even-warren-buffet-admits-wind-energy-is-a-bad-investment :

    Despite being famous for touting the idea that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, investor Warren Buffet seems to be perfectly fine with receiving tax breaks for making investments in Big Wind. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

    • Warren Buffett seems a pretty sensible guy although a lot of people don’t like him for some reason that has never been clear to me.

      ‘There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’

      Hardly your basic economic imperialist.

      • Come to Omaha for an annual meeting and follow around the stockholders on their annual party/pilgrimage and see what they consider “winning.”

      • Buffet opposes pipelines, the result being that oil has to be carried on trains that he owns.
        He’s a total idiot when it comes to tax policy. But what the heck, you like him, so it’s all good.
        As your quote, just another example of his being a total idiot.

  37. People keep moaning about nuclear and safety etc. Then I ask, how many people have died as a direct result of a nuclear accident/incident/contamination/radiation exposure (Sure there is risk. Life on this rock is a risk)? I have not read reports of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands. How many people die, say in the UK alone, from cold? Regularly read reports of 10’s of thousands…EVERY YEAR!

  38. In an article in the WSJ Lomborg stated that solar and wind supplied just 0.4% of world energy and this would be about 2.2% by 2040. What a joke and con job on the planet’s taxpayers. And zero change to temp/ climate or co2 levels. Here’s the quote——–
    “Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels. Yet today, according to the International Energy Agency, only about 0.4% of global energy consumption comes from solar photovoltaics and windmills. And even with exceptionally optimistic assumptions about future deployment of wind and solar, the IEA expects that these energy forms will provide a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040.”
    And here’s the link to the article——- http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/the-alarming-thing-about-climate.html

  39. The sequence of tackling the energy problem is important, first to start with energy conervation before to change the energy production. For example the subsidies for windturbines could be better invested in the housing market to make them more energy efficient. This would have 2 advantages : a. the energy saving would be at free costs for the owner b. there is an economical saving in the allocated costs, it outweighs additional energy production

    • For what they spend on wind alone, they could buy free LED lightbulbs for everyone in the country.
      That would save way more electricity that wind could ever generate.

  40. The first thing to know about the renewable industry its that its an ‘industry’ which therefore seeks to maximise profits by what ever route works. Subsides have the added benefit of require little to no actual cost on behalf of the industry to bring the money in .
    Why do people think so many industrial ‘big boys’ look to expend in this area , because they ‘care about the planet’ or because its ‘easy money ‘ ?

  41. The first is to show just how little our ~ hundred billion dollars in solar and wind subsidies has bought us. If that was supposed to be our insurance policy, it’s not only a failure, it’s a cruel joke.

    Our inability to move past our complete dependence on fossil fuels is the real tragedy here. One day in the not too distant future it is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind. This is a chronicle of our biggest failure.

    • Javier:
      You ran away from this thread where your rear end was kicked (by me, JohnTyler and Richard Verney) for your posting illogical nonsense based unsubstantiated assertions. But you did not run far because you have come to here where you have posted this illogical nonsense based unsubstantiated assertion.

      The first is to show just how little our ~ hundred billion dollars in solar and wind subsidies has bought us. If that was supposed to be our insurance policy, it’s not only a failure, it’s a cruel joke.

      Our inability to move past our complete dependence on fossil fuels is the real tragedy here. One day in the not too distant future it is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind. This is a chronicle of our biggest failure.

      O Wise One, please tell we mere mortals why our present “inability to move past our complete dependence on fossil fuels is” a “real tragedy”.
      The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture. Longer life expectancy, greater medical provision, luxury and leisure don’t seem to be a “real tragedy”.
      Why do you think obtaining such benefits is a “real tragedy” and a “failure” that “is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind”?
      Questioning minds want to know what tragedy, what failure, what heavy toll, how will the “heavy toll” be exacted, and by what or whom will it be “exacted”?
      Richard

      • I did not run away. I provided four independent pieces of evidence from four independent works showing that there was an abrupt cooling 5,200 years ago that made glaciers advance and that advance has been reverted only during present warming, plus one meta-study on glacier changes over the Holocene that indicates that present global glacier retreat is not following 5000 years old trends. You had no comment about that except saying that I have not provided any evidence. Well, if I provide the evidence and you ignore it, what else is left to discuss?
        Considering the increasing speed at which we are using fossil fuels and considering that their amount is limited, it is evident that our dependence on fossil fuels is going to end badly sooner or later if we don’t leave them before they leave us. There was a time when you only had to poke the ground and oil would come out by itself. Nowadays with fracking the rocks have to be fractured to extract it at great expense and with great environmental damage. That speaks volumes about where we are in the race to reach the limits of fossil fuels. As Willis Eschenbach has clearly demonstrated our dependence on fossil fuels is bigger each passing day.

      • Javier:
        You did “run away” and you provided no evidence for anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) global warming(AGW) which is not surprising because there is none. I again post this link so anybody can check the matter in the unlikely event anyone would want to.
        Of course “our dependence on fossil fuels is bigger each passing day”: nobody doubts that. So what?
        I asked you

        Why do you think obtaining such benefits is a “real tragedy” and a “failure” that “is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind”?
        Questioning minds want to know what tragedy, what failure, what heavy toll, how will the “heavy toll” be exacted, and by what or whom will it be “exacted”?

        You have not answered that.
        This failure to justify your fallacious – indeed, silly – assertions is the same behaviour you exhibited in the discussion from which you ran away:
        you make untrue and unsubstantiated assertions and try to change the subject when asked to justify those assertions.
        Richard

      • We have hundreds of years worth of oil left in the ground. As they run out, they will gradually get more expensive on their own. No need to change anything, they will change on their own when the time is right.
        As for your pieces of evidence. They impressed you, but then, that isn’t hard.

      • Richard,

        You have not answered that.

        I have if you can connect the dots between increasing rate of consumption, increasing dependency and decreasing amount of resources. I haven’t if you cannot.
        The rest of your questions are trivial considering how important is energy for everything. I suppose we are all intelligent people. Don’t waste my time.

        you provided no evidence for anthropogenic (i.e. man-made) global warming(AGW)

        I provided evidence for non-natural, excessive and untimely glacier melting on a global scale, which is what I said. You not only did not refute or provide an alternative explanation, but simply ignored what I took the effort to put up for your education.
        You remind me of Randy in that episode of “My name is Earl”:
        – Good morning, Earl.
        – Good morning, Randy.
        – You know what team I’ve always wanted to join? The debate team.
        – No, you haven’t.
        – Yes, I have.
        – No offense, but I don’t think you’d be very good at that.
        – Yes, I would.
        – I think debating is more than just saying the opposite of what the other person says.
        – No, it isn’t.
        – Yes, it is.
        – No, it isn’t. This is stupid. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
        – I win.
        Congratulations on your victory, but the evidence remains unchallenged.

        • Javier says:
          I provided evidence for non-natural, excessive and untimely glacier melting on a global scale…
          No, you didn’t. You asserted ‘facts’ not in evidence.
          Your opinion that current observations are “non-natural, excessive and untimely” has no basis in reality. It is an entirely fabricated scare, just like the whole ‘runaway global warming’ scare was.
          When we look at what’s happening, we see that there is nothing either unprecedented or unusual going on. All you have to counter that are your assertions. But they are only baseless opinions. You don’t have any verifiable, testable measurements to support your belief in DAGW.

      • Mark,

        We have hundreds of years worth of oil left in the ground.

        If that was true we would not need to squeeze rocks to get it, contaminating nine billion liters of water per day in the process.

        • Javier says:
          If that was true we would not need to squeeze rocks to get it, contaminating nine billion liters of water per day in the process.
          YYou seem to be under the impression that like minerals, water isn’t destroyed, either.
          Wrong. The water is there, all it takes is energy to make it fresh water. Cheap energy provides clean water. But you don’t understand why cheap energy is a good thing?

      • Javier:
        I questioned your daft assertion by asking you,
        “Why do you think obtaining such benefits {of fossil fuel usage} is a “real tragedy” and a “failure” that “is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind”?”
        You responded with twaddle but no answer to my question and I pointed out that you did not answer it.
        You now say

        I have if you can connect the dots between increasing rate of consumption, increasing dependency and decreasing amount of resources. I haven’t if you cannot.

        Well, O Wise One, I cannot “connect the dots” I don’t see but you imagine so how about you try to do it for me? After all, you claim the dots exist, you naughty little time-waster you.
        My questions ask for explanation of your assertions so I suppose my questions are – as you suggest – “trivial” because your assertions are ridiculous.
        And you say

        I provided evidence for non-natural, excessive and untimely glacier melting on a global scale, which is what I said. You not only did not refute or provide an alternative explanation, but simply ignored what I took the effort to put up for your education.

        Bollocks! You provided no evidence of any kind “for non-natural, excessive and untimely glacier melting on a global scale”: you only provided data that implied glacier melting was more than you expected. John Tyler and Richard Verney pointed out that what you expect is wrong. For example, Otzi, Hannibal, and farming in Grrenlansd in past epochs demonstrate that recent amounts of glacier melting have happened repeatedly in the holocene.
        It is not necessary to “provide an alternative explanation” for something that is not in evidence as happening.
        And you refused to be educated by the information provided to you.
        As you say, the evidence remains unchallenged” and the only point to be pondered is why you insist on ignoring the evidence.
        Anyway, I have refuted your evasions. So, I repeat,
        Why do you think obtaining such benefits {of fossil fuel usage} is a “real tragedy” and a “failure” that “is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind”?
        Richard

      • Richard,

        Why do you think obtaining such benefits {of fossil fuel usage} is a “real tragedy” and a “failure” that “is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind”?

        I did answer. But I will explain more. When the raising curve of fossil fuel usage intercepts the falling curve of economically and energetically extractable fossil fuels available, given our complete and increasing dependence on fossil fuels we will face a reduction in available energy to us. With more people and less energy, more and more people’s basic needs won’t be covered.
        The best solution is obtaining substantial amounts of energy from a different source, but as Willis Eschenbach has demonstrated this is highly unlikely, as alternative sources are simply not up to the task.

        For example, Otzi, Hannibal, and farming in Grrenlansd in past epochs demonstrate that recent amounts of glacier melting have happened repeatedly in the holocene.

        Let’s review your evidence:
        Ötzi was buried in ice ~5200 years ago and became unburied in 1991. It demonstrates that the Ötztal Alps have retreated to a point last seen ~5200 years ago. So those repeated glacier meltings between 5200 BP and now have not been as intense as present. Exactly my point.
        Hannibal. I don’t know what sort of evidence is this. We lack any data on exact route taken, glacier length at the time, weather conditions, etc. All we know is that he had a terrible time doing it and lost 2/3 of the men and elephants. Claims that it could not be done today are unsubstantiated since nobody has tried and nobody in his right mind would accept such loses today. This does not constitute scientific evidence.
        Viking farming in Greenland. This refers more to high latitude climate than to global glacier advance, but anyway. How do yo compare the conditions then to now? They seemed to eke out a subsistence living more from goats and fishing than crops and their main interest in cultivating appears to have been to make beer. Viking settlement remains in Greenland are surrounded by grass now during the summer. How do you demonstrate that conditions were equal or better then? This does not constitute evidence of glacier melting in the medieval warm period that contradicts what I have said.
        So the only acceptable evidence that you present is in favor of my argument, not yours. Well done.

      • Javier:
        I refuse to be side-tracked onto repeating the ‘glacier debate’ where your silly assertions were so soundly demolished. Anybody wanting the laugh of seeing your rout can read here.
        The issue in this thread is your assertion saying

        Our inability to move past our complete dependence on fossil fuels is the real tragedy here. One day in the not too distant future it is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind. This is a chronicle of our biggest failure.

        to which I replied

        The use of fossil fuels has done more to benefit human kind than anything else since the invention of agriculture. Longer life expectancy, greater medical provision, luxury and leisure don’t seem to be a “real tragedy”.
        Why do you think obtaining such benefits is a “real tragedy” and a “failure” that “is going to come back and exact a very heavy toll from humankind”?
        Questioning minds want to know what tragedy, what failure, what heavy toll, how will the “heavy toll” be exacted, and by what or whom will it be “exacted”?

        You provided much dodging and weaving in attempt to avoid answering but I pressed the matter and you have at last answered saying

        When the raising curve of fossil fuel usage intercepts the falling curve of economically and energetically extractable fossil fuels available, given our complete and increasing dependence on fossil fuels we will face a reduction in available energy to us. With more people and less energy, more and more people’s basic needs won’t be covered.
        The best solution is obtaining substantial amounts of energy from a different source, but as Willis Eschenbach has demonstrated this is highly unlikely, as alternative sources are simply not up to the task.

        That is more nonsense but – for sake of argument – then let us assume it is right.
        Firstly, if we must revert to before we had fossil fuels then we will have gained all the benefits of fossil fuels in the interim. If you think these temporary benefits are “a heavy toll” then I suggest you avoid the toll by living in a mud hut and avoiding any of the benefits from fossil fuels.
        Secondly, if “the raising curve of fossil fuel usage intercepts the falling curve of economically and energetically extractable fossil fuels available” then the resulting “reduction in available energy” will occur gradually. This would provide both warning for the need of alternatives and plenty of time for development of alternatives based on e.g. nuclear power.
        In other words, your latest assertion is like all your other assertions in that it is ridiculous.
        Richard

      • we will have gained all the benefits of fossil fuels in the interim

        Between those benefits is the increase in human numbers. The reversion of that could be painful beyond description if forced by circumstances.

        the resulting “reduction in available energy” will occur gradually.

        You don’t know that.

      • Javier, you provided evidence that glaciers are melting. It is only your assumption that such melting must be non-natural.
        You provided no evidence to support your belief.

      • “If that was true we”
        Thank you for proving that you knew even less about economics than you do environmentalism.

      • “You don’t know that.”
        Yes we do.
        That’s the way the world works. As the cheaper sources are exhausted, more expensive sources are developed, causing the average price to rise. This causes reductions in use as well as making alternatives more attractive. It has happened every time in the past as one resource or another approached the point where it could no longer keep up with demand.

      • Javier:
        No, resources don’t “collapse”.
        Mark W told you (emphasis added by RSC)

        As the cheaper sources are exhausted, more expensive sources are developed, causing the average price to rise. This causes reductions in use as well as making alternatives more attractive.

        “Northern cod” may have reduced but all that does is to reduce the relative price of alternative fish.
        There has NOT been a “collapse” in the availability of fish.
        There has been no shortage of fish and chips and I enjoyed them for lunch today.
        A better example than “Northern cod” would have been the hunting of the dodo to extinction which, of course, has not induced a shortage of birds for eating.
        I again refer you to the most recent discussion on WUWT of these economic matters that is here because – as MarkW said – you have demonstrated you know “even less about economics than you do environmentalism”.
        Additionally, I remind that in this sub-thread I told you a fear something may exhaust is not a rational reason to refuse to enjoy it while it exists.
        Richard

      • Richard,
        Thus far alternatives to fossil fuels are unattractive. That is why our dependence on fossil fuels is increasing, not decreasing. It is not the same as a different fish in your fish and chips.
        Concerns over future availability of fossil fuels should constitute a rational reason for wise use, conservation and limitation of wasteful burning.

      • Javier:
        It is clear that you have a problem getting anything right.
        YOU raised the issue of fish as an example.
        I refuted it.
        You now claim YOUR example is NOT appropriate saying

        Thus far alternatives to fossil fuels are unattractive. That is why our dependence on fossil fuels is increasing, not decreasing. It is not the same as a different fish in your fish and chips.
        Concerns over future availability of fossil fuels should constitute a rational reason for wise use, conservation and limitation of wasteful burning.

        At last you have grasped that at present “alternatives to fossil fuels are unattractive” and “That is why our dependence on fossil fuels is increasing, not decreasing.” So, now perhaps you will admit you made one of your unsubstantiated, untrue and ridiculous assertions when you wrote

        Our inability to move past our complete dependence on fossil fuels is the real tragedy here.

        Also, people don’t burn currency notes as fuel because they don’t squander money. Fossil fuels cost money and, therefore, people don’t squander fossil fuels. That fulfills all need for inhibition to “wasteful burning” of fossil fuels.
        Importantly, it is NOT “rational” to pretend that fear of “future availability” is a useful additional consideration. For all practical purposes all minerals – including fossil fuels – can be considered to be infinite. I explain this in a post in this thread that is in moderation but I anticipate will be here if it passes moderation.
        Richard

      • Richard,

        YOU raised the issue of fish as an example.I refuted it.

        Northern cod catches collapsed. You cannot refute a fact. Some resources do collapse.

        For all practical purposes all minerals – including fossil fuels – can be considered to be infinite.

        Ridiculous. You are going to be proven oh so wrong.
        There was a time when Spain was a world leading producer of gold. The Romans had their biggest mining operation of the Roman Empire at Las Médulas
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_M%C3%A9dulas
        They were so efficient in mining it out that they exhausted the resource and Spain stopped being a gold producer since then.
        Resources do deplete and sometimes they do it by collapsing.

      • MarkW,

        Javier, you provided evidence that glaciers are melting. It is only your assumption that such melting must be non-natural.
        You provided no evidence to support your belief.

        Wrong. It is not my assumption:
        1. J. Oerlemans. Holocene glacier fluctuations: is the current rate of retreat exceptional? Annals of Glaciology, Volume 31, Number 1, January 2000, pp. 39-44(6)
        http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/igsoc/agl/2000/00000031/00000001/art00008
        “Integrations for a 10 000 year period, driven by random forcing of a realistic strength, show that the current retreat cannot be explained from natural variability in glacier length and must be due to external forcing.
        2. Johannes Koch, John J Clague and Gerald Osborn: Alpine glaciers and permanent ice and snow patches in western Canada approach their smallest sizes since the mid-Holocene, consistent with global trends. The Holocene 2014 24: 1639
        http://kochj.brandonu.ca/ho_2014.pdf
        “The global scope and magnitude of glacier retreat likely exceed the natural variability of the climate system and cannot be explained by natural forcing alone. This departure is best explained by the ascendancy of another forcing factor – the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
        3. B. K. REICHERT, L. B ENGTSSON and J. OERLEMANS: Recent Glacier Retreat Exceeds Internal Variability. Journal of Climate 15 (2002) 3069.
        http://www.meteo.psu.edu/holocene/public_html/Mann/courses/EVAT795/Reichertal-JClim02.pdf
        “Preindustrial fluctuations of the glaciers as far as observed or reconstructed, including their advance during the Little Ice Age, can be explained by internal variability in the climate system as represented by a GCM. However, fluctuations comparable to the present-day glacier retreat exceed any variation simulated by the GCM control experiments and must be caused by external forcing, with anthropogenic forcing being a likely candidate.”
        As you can see the one that is expressing an unsupported assumption is you, not me.
        You can’t refute the evidence, but please, try.

        • Javier,
          Get a clue. You link to grant-trolling carp like this:
          Preindustrial fluctuations of the glaciers as far as observed or reconstructed, including their advance during the Little Ice Age, can be explained by internal variability in the climate system as represented by a GCM. However, fluctuations comparable to the present-day glacier retreat exceed any variation simulated by the GCM control experiments…

          …is best explained by…

          And:
          …must be due to …
          In other words, they give their opinions.
          But still no empirical, testable measurements quantifying AGW.
          You lose again.

      • dbstealey,

        You lose again.

        I lose if:
        a) You can disprove the evidence that I have presented showing that glaciers are at their smallest length for 5000 years. You haven’t.
        b) You can provide a credible alternative explanation for why glaciers are at their smallest length for 5000 years. You haven’t.
        c) You can provide more scientific literature supporting your view that current global glacier retreat is normal within Late Holocene variability than I have presented of the opposite. You haven’t.
        I can’t lose against your opinion, which is all you have provided.

        • Javier,
          Re: a) & b):
          You are cherry-picking an event. Try arguing using the entire Holocene, not just one anomaly.
          Re: c):
          As I keep pointing out to you, we don’t need “literature”. We need measurements quantifying AGW. But so far, there aren’t any.

      • Javier:
        Your childishness is becoming tiresome.
        1.
        YOU raised the issue of Northern Cod “collapsing”.
        2.
        I pointed out that substitution had previously been explained to you, and your example is a good example of substitution: there is no shortage of fish.
        3.
        You then admitted that YOUR example is NOT appropriate when you wrote (emphasis added by RSC)

        Thus far alternatives to fossil fuels are unattractive. That is why our dependence on fossil fuels is increasing, not decreasing. It is not the same as a different fish in your fish and chips.

        4.
        I pointed out that you had – for the first time – admitted that one of your silly assertions is plain wrong.
        5.
        Your have replied to that by saying

        Northern cod catches collapsed. You cannot refute a fact. Some resources do collapse.

        6.
        NO! Fish supplies have NOT “collapsed” because “Northern cod catches collapsed”. Other fish were substituted for the cod until they recovered. A better example of fish stocks “collapsing” than the cod would have been the collapse of herring catches in the 1920s which were substituted by the cod.
        7.
        I pointed to an explanation I provided for you here which explains in full why

        For all practical purposes all resources can be considered to be infinite.

        8.
        Your reply to my explanation says to me

        Ridiculous. You are going to be proven oh so wrong.
        There was a time when Spain was a world leading producer of gold. The Romans had their biggest mining operation of the Roman Empire at Las Médulas
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_M%C3%A9dulas
        They were so efficient in mining it out that they exhausted the resource and Spain stopped being a gold producer since then.
        Resources do deplete and sometimes they do it by collapsing.

        9.
        Please say where you obtained the crystal ball that tells you the processes of all human history will cease so I am “going to be proven so wrong”.
        Of course individual sources of resources exhaust but – as your fish example illustrates – substitution ensures that is not a problem. And your gold example also demonstrates the reality: more gold has been mined since the Spanish mines exhausted than was mined before then. If you were able to read then you would have seen my linked explanation for you says says

        Humans do not run out of anything although they can suffer local and/or temporary shortages of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

        And it fully explains why this is achieved by substitution.
        Your silly and unsubstantiated assertions are becoming tiresome.
        Richard

      • dbstealey,

        You are cherry-picking an event.

        No, I am not. Like Lord Monckton, I am looking from the present asking when global glaciers have been this short and the answer is 5000 years. That is the length in time of the global glacier retreat clock.

        As I keep pointing out to you, we don’t need “literature”.

        I see, you don’t need science. Glacier length is a measurement, and it is not possible to quantify AGW as it is not possible to distinguish natural from man-made warming. You try to impose impossible demands on science to reject scientific evidence that proves how ridiculous and indefensible is your posture.

      • Richard,

        Your childishness is becoming tiresome.

        You should know. You are the king of tiresomites. A taste of your own medicine?
        I have demonstrated that resources eventually exhaust, like northern cod or cryolite. After 23 years northern cod has not recovered and mineral resources never recover. Global exhaustion is the sum of local exhaustions like Spanish gold ore. Substitution can work for some resources but not everything can be substituted adequately. So far there is no adequate substitute for fossil fuels. Despite whatever you say, resource depletion is a real concern. Obviously closing your eyes to future problems allows you to live happily, but prevents implementation of policies to reduce and postpone the problem while at the same time is totally unfair to future generations that will be left with the bill of cleaning up the environmental disaster we are passing along to them. Your position that all resources are infinite is silly.

      • Javier:
        I am content to allow others to decide which of us is “tiresome”.
        Suffice it that
        I present information, evidence, links and quotations in support of logical arguments.
        but
        you present irrational and untrue assertions then have childish tantrums when you are shown to be wrong.
        The fish issue is clear demonstration of this. You raised the issue of fish in support of your daft assertions about fossil fuel depletion: when shown your fish example was plain wrong you then said it is different from fossil fuels.
        And you add this foot-stamping temper tantrum

        I have demonstrated that resources eventually exhaust, like northern cod or cryolite. After 23 years northern cod has not recovered and mineral resources never recover. Global exhaustion is the sum of local exhaustions like Spanish gold ore. Substitution can work for some resources but not everything can be substituted adequately. So far there is no adequate substitute for fossil fuels.

        You have only “demonstrated” that you don’t have a clue.
        No resource eventually exhausts and none ever has. Even you admitted that your cod example was wrong. You, having admitted it is wrong, it is an act of idiocy for you to raise it again. And the Spanish gold example is daft: as I said, more gold has been mined after closure of the Spanish mines than was mined before they were closed. And you have now thrown in cryolite which you did not mention previously because you know your fish and gold assertions have been refuted.
        Of course there is no substitute for fossil fuels at present. If you were able to read then you would have read that my explanation said

        A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.
        But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
        (a) alternative sources of the resource
        and
        (b) alternatives to the resource.
        And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

        Fossil fuels are cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain because they are in abundant supply which makes them cheap so nobody bothers to seek an alternative to them.
        Some cranks and rent seekers promote return to wind, solar and other renewables that were abandoned when the greater energy intensity in fossil fuels became available to do work. When fossil fuels start to become scarce then the corporations supplying fossil fuels will start to seriously search for substitutes. No such serious search will begin until there is some indication of coming scarcity of fossil fuels, and that will not be for several centuries if ever.
        There is no “environmental disaster”. In developed countries pollution is less now than it has been for millennia. Provision of cheap fossil d]fuel energy to developing countries will enable them to overcome their pollution problems as it has enabled us to overcome ours.
        Your position is ridiculous in that it pretends resources cannot be considered infinite for all practical purposes. I have repeatedly explained to you how and why reality refutes your ridiculous position.
        Richard

    • How much energy does it take to push a car 10 kms.
      – two full days of hard physical labor for a human;
      – 1 litre of gasoline or $1 worth;
      – 1 windmill taking months and $3 million to build and then $1 million in further subsidies if the car is electric.
      That is the value of fossil fuels.

    • Why on earth would we want to get past our dependence on the cheapest, most reliable form of energy around?

      • Main answer because we will eventually run out of the stuff. Secondary answer because that stuff is too valuable to just being burned away in inefficient combustion engines where thermal efficiency is 30% at best and the rest of the energy is just lost. You can do a lot of wonderful stuff with oil.

      • Javier:
        We will NOT “run out of the stuff”. For all practical purposes all minerals can be considered to be infinite. This has often been debated on WUWT and most recently here.
        On past evidence it is beyond your capabilities to use a link, but I provide it because others may be interested in that discussion.
        Richard

      • Richard,

        For all practical purposes all minerals can be considered to be infinite. This has often been debated on WUWT

        You seem to consider that you win your debates because you tire of your opponents, but that has nothing to do with the physics of an increasingly exploited resource of a limited non-renewable nature.

        • Javier says:
          …the physics of an increasingly exploited resource of a limited non-renewable nature.
          That is just alarmist pablum. Richard is correct, minerals are never “used up”, which is just a Malthusian scare.
          Expensive energy is the problem. Because with cheap energy those minerals can be recycled.

      • Javier strikes me as yet another college student who has been educated past his intelligence.
        He knows what he wants to know, don’t bother him with the facts.

      • MarkW,
        Those ad-hominem posts add absolutely nothing to the discussion. Unless you are 13 years old you should mature enough to be able to discuss intellectually with the grown-ups.

      • Javier:
        You say to MarkW

        you should mature enough to be able to discuss intellectually with the grown-ups

        .
        And you should, too, but so far you have failed to demonstrate any such ability.
        However, for the benefit of onlookers most of whom are “grown-ups”, I again explain why the Malthusian pablum you espouse is nonsense.
        The fallacy of overpopulation derives from the disproved Malthusian idea which wrongly assumes that humans are constrained like bacteria in a Petri dish: i.e. population expands until available resources are consumed when population collapses. The assumption is wrong because humans do not suffer such constraint: humans find and/or create new and alternative resources when existing resources become scarce.
        The obvious example is food.
        In the 1970s the Club of Rome predicted that human population would have collapsed from starvation by now. But human population has continued to rise and there are fewer starving people now than in the 1970s; n.b. there are less starving people in total and not merely fewer in percentage.
        Now, the most common Malthusian assertion is ‘peak oil’. But humans need energy supply and oil is only one source of energy supply. Adoption of natural gas displaces some requirement for oil, fracking increases available oil supply at acceptable cost; etc..
        In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite; i.e. the human ‘Petri dish’ can be considered as being unbounded. This a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.
        Humans do not run out of anything although they can suffer local and/or temporary shortages of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).
        A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.
        But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
        (a) alternative sources of the resource
        and
        (b) alternatives to the resource.
        And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.
        For example, both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.
        Many alternative sources have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.
        Alternatives to oil as a transport fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.
        There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.
        Indeed, coal also demonstrates an ‘expanding Petri dish’.
        Spoil heaps from old coal mines contain much coal that could not be usefully extracted from the spoil when the mines were operational. Now, modern technology enables the extraction of coal from the spoil at a cost which is economic now and would have been economic if it had been available when the spoil was dumped.
        These principles not only enable growing human population: they also increase human well-being.
        The ingenuity which increases availability of resources also provides additional usefulness to the resources. For example, abundant energy supply and technologies to use it have freed people from the constraints of ‘renewable’ energy and the need for the power of muscles provided by slaves and animals. Malthusians are blind to the obvious truth that human ingenuity has freed humans from the need for slaves to operate treadmills, the oars of galleys, etc..
        And these benefits also act to prevent overpopulation because population growth declines with affluence.
        There are several reasons for this. Of most importance is that poor people need large families as ‘insurance’ to care for them at times of illness and old age. Affluent people can pay for that ‘insurance’ so do not need the costs of large families.
        The result is that the indigenous populations of rich countries decline. But rich countries need to sustain population growth for economic growth so they need to import – and are importing – people from poor countries. Increased affluence in poor countries can be expected to reduce their population growth with resulting lack of people for import by rich countries.
        Hence, the real foreseeable problem is population decrease; n.b. not population increase.
        All projections and predictions indicate that human population will peak around the middle of this century and decline after that. So, we are confronted by the probability of ‘peak population’ resulting from growth of affluence around the world.
        Reduced economic growth is not the only loss that would be provided by peak population. More people provides more Einsteins, more Beethovens, more Brunels, etc..
        The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; human population is NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish. There is no existing or probable problem of overpopulation of the world by humans who consume resources.
        Richard

      • Richard,

        I again explain why the Malthusian pablum you espouse is nonsense.

        Nice piece of opinion. History however demonstrates that time and again civilizations collapse when their basic resources are reduced. Your limited view of past two centuries of development and prosperity have built a sense of security and confidence in the future that is unjustified. You are in a sense the opposite of Malthus. he was wrong because he was too pessimistic and did not allow for critical improvements. You are likely to be as wrong for the opposite reasons. Too optimistic and not allowing for critical failures. Our economy is an extremely fragile construct that we do not control completely, was close to collapse in 2008, and has not completely recovered since. All of this without having had an energy availability problem. The real situation is very very far from the rosy piece you have written as any informed person knows.

      • Javier:
        I see your response to my explanation of why your Malthusian assertions are nonsense is more of your untrue and unsubstantiated assertions. You claim

        Nice piece of opinion. History however demonstrates that time and again civilizations collapse when their basic resources are reduced. Your limited view of past two centuries of development and prosperity have built a sense of security and confidence in the future that is unjustified. You are in a sense the opposite of Malthus. he was wrong because he was too pessimistic and did not allow for critical improvements. You are likely to be as wrong for the opposite reasons. Too optimistic and not allowing for critical failures. Our economy is an extremely fragile construct that we do not control completely, was close to collapse in 2008, and has not completely recovered since. All of this without having had an energy availability problem. The real situation is very very far from the rosy piece you have written as any informed person knows.

        Please take a course in reading comprehension.
        I described principles that have governed all human history and pre-history; NOT a “limited view of past two centuries of development”. Those principles are neither “optimistic” nor “pessimistic”: they are reality.
        History does NOT demonstrate that “time and again civilizations collapse when their basic resources are reduced”. Please state any civilisation that has “collapsed” for that reason. Local societies have moved because their local resource exhausted (e.g. people abandon a mining town when their mine exhausts, the inhabitants of Easter Island moved to other islands when they had used all their trees, etc.), but they took their civilisation with them.
        The banking crisis in 2008 had NOTHING to do with resource depletion.
        All this is known by every “informed person” but you say is not known by you.
        Richard

  42. “In 2013, … Natural gas and oil, about $2.3 billion dollars.”
    plus a war now and then
    “In March 2013, the total cost of the Iraq War was estimated to have been $1.7 trillion by the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University. Critics have argued that the total cost of the war to the U.S. economy is estimated to be from $3 trillion to $6 trillion, including interest rates, by 2053.” wikipedia

    • lgl:
      Please explain the relevance of your comment.
      It reads as though you are claiming the Iraq War was a subsidy for oil. Clearly, that is ridiculous, so please say what you did mean.
      Richard

      • One annoying feature of oil is that the Middle East has so much of it, often more easily reachable than elsewhere.
        Refraining from using oil will not change this.

  43. A bit unfair on Carter. He does not even mention the environment. His point was purely an economic and a strategic one. And that assessment was spot on. And that assessment is still valid: a US dependent on foreign energy supplies is held to ransom by the whims of whoever controls that supply. Look at Europe which bends over backwards to accommodate unpallatable regimes in the Middle East, Russia and farther afield.
    Now, you may disagree with the way he wanted to address the problem, but that is a different question altogether. His basic point was right and it had nothing to do with environmental scares.

    • The knock on Carter was his Malthusian wolf cry, nothing to do with energy independence from the ME. Something no one objects to, but never happens.

  44. So let us take a quick look at the great achievements of the eco-left and their proposed attempts to engineer the weather.
    So far they have managed to protest against, discredit and resist the expansion of the nuclear and hydro industries – which really were capable of replacing a significant proportion of electricity production.
    For example 80% nuclear in France. Or 90% hydro in Norway. About 80% in Brazil.
    AND – they have been relatively successful in this goal.
    THEN – they have hoodwinked the masses into believing that solar parks and wind-farms represented a cost effective and reliable alternative to conventional power sources.
    When, as shown above, the total output of all the wind and solar in the world is so miniscule as to be hardly worthy of consideration.
    The net result of all of this shenanigans – is a BIGGER SHARE FOR FOSSIL FUELS.
    Which may help us understand why Putin and the Arabs actively promote weather fear and pipe-dreams about glorious micro-generation.
    And just one question – Imagine yourself as an evil oil baron type of a purely self-interested mind set, and imagine that you were trying to advance the interests of your company with no regard for the outcome.
    Now, taking into account the simple consideration given above.
    Who would you want to secretly support with funding incentives?
    A thinktank/blog that frequently made references to the utility of nuclear and hydro?
    Or thinktank/blog where nuclear and hydro were demonized and the future was being bet on replacing all energy production with solar pavements?
    Because, if I was Big Oil then I’d be funding the anti-nuclear, solar pavements idiots.

    • +several Mr/Ms frog.
      We will need more energy in the medium to long term. We have the ability to produce it using cheap and reliable nuclear power, once it is unshackled. Fossil fuel interests are currently probably cheaper, but also have an incentive to discourage viable alternatives while ‘promoting’ alternatives that will not be viable.
      Many greens wish to discourage everything that that is viable.

  45. Don Lancaster wrote columns for Popular Electronics and other magazines. He had a lot of good advice for inventors. One of my favorites: If folks have been working on something for a long time, don’t expect that you will do much better than has already been achieved.
    We’ve been working on solar, wind, and batteries for a long time. The low hanging fruit has already been picked. We shouldn’t expect breakthroughs any time soon. It is a big waste of money to expect that subsidies will cause the technology to improve a lot.

    • Good point Bob. Actually, batteries ARE getting better. cheaper, lower self discharge rates, etc. For example, electric cars are sort of becoming practical for many people in warm climates. But battery improvement a slow process and it’ll probably be a long time before they are practical for routine long term power storage in most situations.
      Likewise solar cells are getting better. As I understand it, the cost of the cells no longer dominates solar installations. And it’ll likely drop more in the future. The problems with solar are it’s low capacity (i.e. what a normal person would call availability), the cost of backup storage, the need for a clear Southern exposure, etc, etc,etc

      • Don,
        You may believe the claims that batteries are getting better, but the market with intelligent buyers speaks otherwise. Except for special cases and the need to impress others with a very expensive TESLA, the electric car still has limited use even with the massive subsidies and constant push by governments.
        Read this article if you believe otherwise and need some data.
        https://dddusmma.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/stalled-ev-and-phev-sales/
        Large oil and other energy companies have been working on better batteries without subsidies decades before the current craze to subsidize and implement premature ideas. Remember there was a time when there was lots of evidence of peak oil and they were looking at alternative businesses. Research is OK but forced implementation of a bad idea lacks good judgment and intelligence. .
        Bob is absolutely correct, with all the efforts to date to think that a magic breakthrough is just down the road requires an absence of common sense and reality. Some things are simply not possible given the laws of thermodynamics and chemistry despite what non scientific politicians believe.

      • Electric cars are only becoming practical because the govt picks up most of the cost for them.
        While solar cells are improving, at the current rate of improvement it will take 1 to 2 centuries for them to become practical.

      • Don K:
        Electric cars predate the internal combustion engine.
        Nothing more about electric cars needs to be said to anyone without a vested interest who can think.
        Richard

    • don’t expect that you will do much better than has already been achieved

      A corollary is that we will not get a breakthrough just because we need one when we will need one, as many people wrongly believe.

      • Technology advances, trying to impoverish ourselves now in order to avoid possibly being impoverished sometime hundreds of years from now is the kind of idiocy only a leftist/environmentalist could ever find intelligent.

  46. Good post! Hope such understanding becomes more widespread. Unfortunately those of us with some memory find ourselves facing greater numbers who have no memory, weren’t or age and/or who are unwilling to look at history. They say optimism springs eternal, but this weird mix of doomsaying on one hand and excess optimism on the other seems to cycle through continuos rebirths.

  47. “It’s cruel because that amount of money could provide clean water for everyone on the planet …”
    Units of population are not important to the watermelons!

  48. Every piece of Nuclear Fuel used in US Nuclear Plants ever — was subsidized by the US Government.
    The US Nuclear Industry has been subsidized an order of magnitude more ($100 Billion not accounting for inflation) than Solar and Wind when you include fuel, accident cleanup, and construction loan subsidies.
    If you add rate increases by Public Service Commissions to pay for new nuclear plants — it goes higher still.

    • Cleanup of which accidents?
      How was fuel subsidised?
      How do you measure the added cost created by institutional radiophobia?

    • Karl,
      Lots of the research dollars was for defense purposes, not power plants which the enviro’s lie about. We have nuclear powered ships as the result of these research programs. Also significant $$ was spent for disposal in Nevada which Harry Reid arbitrarily blocked to make Nuclear look bad, despite support from scientific studies. Now we find the media is calling Harry a liar..
      At least there has been lots of reliable nuclear energy generation for decades at rates well below the cost of intermittent wind/solar power. Due to the Defense and other uses such as medical, the subsidy/economics is not simple as you suggest.

  49. @Willis – I believe you need to change the title. The US government was involved with “Subsidies” to a wind farm in North Dakota way back in 1940. That makes 75 years of “subsidies.”

    • The US subsidized the Nuclear Industry from 1947 to 1999 at a rate of $3.5 Billion a year. Accounting for inflation, the subsidy in 1947 is equivalent to 32 Billion totday.
      Overall, direct taxpayer subsidies from 1947-1999 totaled 178 Billion Federal $$ — Half a Trillion when factoring inflation.
      This does not include rate hikes approved by PSCs to pay for Nuclear Plant Construction.

      • Even Garbage Dumps and McDonalds gets a “subsidy.” Read the definition of “Tax expenditures.” – “These are largely provisions found in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC, or Tax Code)—Title 26 of the United States Code—that reduce the tax liability of firms or individuals who take specified actions that affect energy production, distribution, transmission, consumption, or conservation.” that means EVERY business expense, Every other tax they pay to local , city, county , state in the form of taxes. The company you work for, even if self employed, gets a “Subsidy.” Now subtract the annual licensing Fees that the NPP pay By law, the NRC must recover, through fees to applicants and licensees, 90 percent of its budget. That is about $5,000,000 per NPP, How if tax breaks are a subsidy, what is this fee? Why do they not subtract that n figuring out subsidies. There is also a fee for the never approved Yucca Mt. storage facility, about a 1/10 of a cent per kWh (suspended until they get their act together). The total collected now totals over $30 Billion. Why is that ignored – it is just like a tax. EVERY business is allowed to subtract legitimate, IRS tax laws to determine their tax bill. Even you get a “Subsidy,” by that twisted logic.
        Apply the same twisted logic, propaganda meme, to the Airline industry and determine what their “Subsidies” are. Apply that twisted propaganda and make them pay their “Fair Share” i.e. the cost of the NTSB and the FAA, and see what happens to the price of a plane ticket.
        Further, most state PUC, and even Municipal Public Utility Commission governing bodies DO NOT allow increasing the rate base based upon “Construction in Progress. Which is actually BAD,WORSE, makes your electricity cost more. because YOU then have to pay twice as much to build a power plant. WHY? Because the utility has to borrow all money and then pay interest on the money they have borrowed until the plant is declared “operational” by the PUC. This would belike you being required to make the payments on the construction loan for the new house you were having built for you, from the day you signed the contract to start building the house, even before there was a hole in the ground.
        Worse yet, since you are no millionaire, you would be forced to make payments by using a “line of Credit” established at your loan company (since you are not allowed to collect money to pay off the loan). Then when you finally can move in your new house the loan company will combine the two loans into one loan. That means that you will add about 10 to 20 percent to the cost of your new home – all do to interest charges. Large power plants take five to 10 years to build and another five or so years, That can make the plant cost as much as 50% more – due to interest only.

      • Karl,
        You overlook the Defense purpose of the Nuclear Subsidy which was the major driver.
        Jimmy Carter loved Nuclear considering the embargo threat from the Arabs for a good reason. Need to put things into perspective of the threats from Iran, etc.
        The DOE still has a budget of $26.4 Billion per year with negligible energy contribution based on waste from wind/solar subsidies.
        The Government spends over $20 Billion for climate change every year, why go back to the 70’s to justify today’s negligence with tax dollars?

      • @Catcracking Good Point!
        I didn’t even mention the real military aspect. As a retired Nuclear trained Nuclear Operator I know how well the information was kept classified. Yes The government did help with Shipping Port But that was in the LOW millions and was not operational till 1957 – could not have offered much help (subsidize) in 1947 – more smoke and subterfuge. The earliest Licensed/operating commercial nuclear power plants were GE Boiling Water Reactors and the government did not help much with them and they did not go on line till 1967 – ten years after Shipping Port. And Shipping Port was a PWR not a BWR. Shipping Port was also a “proof of concept” reactor and had heavy military involvement for specific military purposes. In my opinion the only real subsidy was to the education of engineers that went on to work on commercial nuclear power plants – don’t see how that was in the multiple millions of dollars as the trolls that claim nuclear power is heavily subsidized. As I started my first post the average garbage dump receives a larger subsidy relative to the size of the industry. Think of it, You buy an abandoned stone quarry for peanuts, and then right off the loss of capacity each year as you fill it up – which was the reason they bought the pit in the first. That to me is the biggest scam going.
        What about all of the “Subsidies” that all of the industries got from the Space Race? Like tang, and freeze dried food and satellites, and cell-phones.

      • How is writing off the loss of capacity a scam?
        It’s standard depreciation, exactly the same as a company writing off the drop in value of a building as it ages, or a machine as it gets older?
        The alternative is to allow the companies to expense the cost of buying that pit, plant, or machine in the year that it was purchased. Which I assure every company would prefer to do.

    • “The US government was involved with “Subsidies” to a wind farm in North Dakota way back in 1940.”
      You sure about the date? My impression was that the first serious wind turbine in the US was erected on Grandpa Knob in Vermont in 1941. Not only was it not subsidized, it couldn’t even get a government allocation of material to fix a damaged blade that eventually parted company with the device putting an end to the experiment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith-Putnam_wind_turbine
      (Turns out that wind wasn’t economically viable in the 1940s either although the cost differential wasn’t all that big).

      • usurbrain November 6, 2015 at 8:39 am

        From – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_the_United_States
        “The first municipal use of multiple wind-electric turbines in the USA may have been a five turbine system in Pettibone, North Dakota in 1940. These were commercial Wincharger units on guyed towers.[11]”

        I’ve dealt with Winchargers. They are a 12 volt system. The town of Pettibone put in five of them and connected them to batteries … from the picture, they look like the big Winchargers, 1200 watts at 32 volts.
        So the five of them, with a good wind, could put out about 6 kilowatts. However, it is likely that they ran at a capacity factor of about 0.2, which means that on average they put out 1.2 kW or so …
        One point two kilowatts? Color me unimpressed. Wind power no more ready for the grid-scale market back then than they are right now …
        w.

      • ERCOT does not cover ALL of Texas, just most of it, yet, in true Texan braggadocio fashion, they always inflate their accomplishments by claiming 10% of TEXAS and not 10% of MOST of Texas. And even that relies upon getting wind power from outside the ERCOT area.

  50. The only subsidy that oil and gas get are depreciation allowances. The same subsidies that every single company in the country gets. BTW, wind and solar get those same depreciation allowances, but they aren’t counted as subsidies for them?
    PS: Depreciation is not really a subsidy. Normally companies that buy stuff get to deduct those business expenses in the year the expenses occurred. Depreciation means that companies have to take those deductions and spread them out over a number of years. So by depreciating instead of expensing, companies end up paying more in taxes.

    • You can’t expense a capital improvement, its against the tax code, that’s why they take depreciation. Companies or individuals must depreciate a capital expenditure — like a new roof on a rental property, new plant equipment, new real property.

      • I’m looking real hard, and I can’t find anywhere were I claimed that capital improvements could be expensed at present. The whole point was that by forcing companies to depreciate instead of expense, depreciations cost companies money, they aren’t a subsidy.

  51. The renewal subsidies does not include the mandate that power companies must by from them, regardless of cost.

    • Please cite the mandate. Net metered power from small producers is purchased at the utility’s avoided cost by statute in the majority of states.
      avoided cost: the cost the utility would have incurred had it supplied the power itself or obtained it from another source

      • I believed the definition of a “net meter” was a meter that measures the net energy move (only one reading), not avoided cost!

      • CA for one requires that a set percentage of all power generated come from renewable sources. CO is another recent addition to that list.
        There are others.

      • Karl November 6, 2015 at 6:22 am Edit

        Please cite the mandate. Net metered power from small producers is purchased at the utility’s avoided cost by statute in the majority of states.

        ANY state that has a renewable energy mandate is forcing the utilities to buy at inflated prices. These, as MarkW points out, include CA and CO
        In addition, your claim that rooftop solar is purchased “at the utility’s avoided cost” is certainly not true here in California. The utilities pay much more than the avoided cost for rooftop solar. I’ve never heard of a state that just pays “avoided cost” for their rooftop solar. As you say … please cite the state that you are talking about.
        Finally, you appear to be ignoring the fact that (in California at least) the installation of rooftop solar is highly subsidized, and that the benefits of rooftop solar mostly flow to the rich …
        I do have to admire you, though, for your unwavering support for a system of rooftop solar panels that enriches the rich and further impoverishes the poor. It’s very green and noble of you.
        w.

      • @ willis —
        States don’t pay the utility pays — or they get the NEG credited to them like in Hawaii
        Net excess generation — HI Credited to customer’s next bill at retail rate; [b]granted to utility at end of 12-month billing cycle [/b]
        California Net Metering “Credited to customer’s next bill at retail rate. After 12-month cycle, customer may opt to roll over credit indefinitely or to receive payment for credit at a rate equal to the 12-month average spot market price for the hours of 7 am to 5 pm for the year in which the surplus power was generated. [b] (If customer makes no affirmative decision, credit is granted to utility with no compensation for customer.) [/b]”
        or buy at avoided cost like in NJ “Generally credited to customer’s next bill at retail rate; excess reconciled annually at avoided-cost rate”
        http://www.dsireusa.org/

  52. Green energy to solve the worlds energy problems:
    looks much like homeopathy to treat a medical emergency:

  53. When I read the headline, I thought the graph would be how the subsidies varied by year. That may be a good graph to add as an additional data set, with the magnitude along the right vertical axis.

  54. Again, follow the money. Conventional energy producing corporations give more money to Republicans, solar and wind enterprises give more to Democrats. Evidently, the Democrats are more generous in payback to those bribing them than are the Republicans. The difference is, of course, that the public gets so much less in return from the solar and wind scams and suffers the negative economic effects of the poor policies.

  55. There is a monument to the Carter folly just up the highway from my home in Arvada CO. The TOSCO Corporation (I believe that’s right, but could have been another subsidy taker) built a retort to treat oil shale from the western slope of Colorado. Word is that no oil shale was processed and no oil was produced…but the structure still stands.

  56. Solar does not need a tax credit subsidy at this point. The best of breed solar firms did it with technology improvements and not the wasteful demonstration project money slinging of DOE. Yes, these top tier solar firms benefited from the financing subsidy for the large projects that helped bring economies of scale to the utility scale projects. But they also had to deal with fake companies bidding on projects that they had no capability of completing in order to spin the project for a fee and tax benefit to others. We would be just as far along today in solar industry development and cost reduction without all the politicized program fails and misdirected taxpayer funds. Misguided DOE and WH involvement amounts to 1,000 times the $43 million CNG filling station fiasco in Afghanistan audit findings. A society that rewards such incompetents is doomed. It amounts to Napoleonic finance and excess.

    • Resourceguy November 6, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Solar does not need a tax credit subsidy at this point.

      And yet every attempt to end the subsidies on solar receive huge opposition from the solar industry … why might that be?
      As to subsidies, please point me to any grid-scale solar system that does NOT enjoy subsidies of one form or another. I ask because every one I’ve seen looks like this one, which is hugely subsidized in a variety of ways from start to finish, and STILL ends up getting paid way over market value for its product simply because of California’s insane renewables mandate …
      Given your ignorance about the subsidies granted to solar and wind, I find your alias highly ironic.
      w.

      • “Why might that be?”
        Because the “huge opposition” is mostly comprised of the also rans in the industry that should have been flushed out of business by now, but for misguided tax policy and political treatment of the sector as a protected social class. It is a numbers issue that you above all others should be able to comprehend (two competitive U.S. solar firms out of 1,000 others). It also requires reading the quarterly earnings reports on a regular basis like any due diligence process, a trait severely lacking on both sides of the debate and at DoE. Recall the DoE tagline of “we don’t pick winners” that separated it from sane industrial development strategy instead of the current political theme strategy. I’m invested in the former as a tech play while the rest is noise. Expensive noise that is.

      • Thanks for more uncited claims, Resourceguy, you seem to have lots of those to spare. But somehow, in the midst of providing new claims, you’ve neglected to answer my question, viz:

        As to subsidies, please point me to any grid-scale solar system that does NOT enjoy subsidies of one form or another.

        Still waiting ….
        w.

      • They (solar) all enjoy the subsidy on projects because the tax benefit is an open door benefit to all takers, from Warren Buffett on down the line. The same applies to tax benefits in the set of tax laws that oil and gas firms tax advantage of. These are not some kind of special gifts from the WH or DoE but plainly stated in the tax law.

      • Resourceguy November 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

        They (solar) all enjoy the subsidy on projects because the tax benefit is an open door benefit to all takers, from Warren Buffett on down the line. The same applies to tax benefits in the set of tax laws that oil and gas firms tax advantage of.

        Thanks for the reply, Resourceguy. There are plenty of states and countries where there are no subsidies available. Those states and countries also have no solar power development. Coincidence? You be the judge.
        My point is simple. Without subsidies neither solar or wind are economically competitive in todays marketplace. We’ve been told since Carter’s time that in only a few years solar and wind would be competitive. Still not true.

        These are not some kind of special gifts from the WH or DoE but plainly stated in the tax law.

        You are right. Instead, they are special gifts from the WH or DoE that have been written into the tax law. However, you are ignoring the elephant in the room, the direct subsidies.
        Coal, gas, oil and nuclear together got $173 million in direct subsidies in 2013. Solar and wind, on the other hand, got $7.25 billion dollars in cash-in-pocket direct subsidies.
        All the best,
        w.

  57. We will know the day when these new technologies are viable and that is the day when they pay net tax.
    But as another commentator noted, the fossil fuel industry pays countless billions in tax, and society lives off the benefit of that tax income. There will never be a day when windfarms and solar farms pay billions in tax; they will never replace the income that the government gets from the fossil fuel industry, and which income all of society enjoys. Indeed, how is welfare to be paid, if the fossil fuel industry is shut down? The lefties have not thought of that.
    It would be a disaster for society if the fossil fuel industry is hounded out of business, and Politicians have given insufficient thought to that.
    PS. Willis a very good article, well worth the read..

  58. Here in Ontario Canada, land of the phenomenally catastrophic Green Energy Act, one can track electricity demand and supply at the web site of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) at http://www.ieso.ca
    As of today, November 6, 2015, a windy day with a mix of sun and clouds, wind is providing 13% of the province’s electrical requirements (yesterday it was just over 5%). Solar is providing 0.2% of the demand. (Yes, that’s zero-point-two percent from solar.) Nuclear (60.6%) and hydro (20.5%) still do the heavy lifting. (These percentages change from day to day, but overall the ratios are similar.) And of course, consumer rates went up November 1st, and will increase again January 1st.

  59. first time I was over the horizon, was on Kariba dam. since then mainly only on oil/gas rigs – never sailed the oceans like Willis and others…
    yet the awesomeness never left me;)
    apart from ‘been there, done that’, the multitudes of poor people (and wildlife) displaced by this GREEN projects is never mentioned? if it is, I missed it. feel free to search for the numbers, that is not my point…
    rather the INSANITY of ‘well meaning persons’ – taxing/subsidising/whatever – everyone is righteous somehow?

  60. talking HYDRO projects here – fauna flowned into turbines and/or roasted (poor turkeys) on solar fields excluded.

  61. @willis
    “One point two kilowatts? Color me unimpressed. Wind power no more ready for the grid-scale market back then than they are right now …”
    Definitely agree with that.
    However, Have you seen an electric meter from before the war though? I have one – used for a lamp base. The rating on it is Five (5) amps 120 VAC single phase. – that is less than five “100” watt light bulbs or ten “50” watt light bulbs. People did not use a lot of electricity back then. In the 60’s I took a generator from a Model “T” a few pulleys and a belt and hooked it up to a AerMotor windmill we no longer used and that charged a battery for lights in our barn. Which used 4 of the internal bulbs from the (not sealed beam) head lights, of the Model “T.” More than sufficient for milking on winter mornings and safer than the kerosene lamp. Even though the salvaged battery would not start a car it kept the lights on for about an hour each morning/evening – most of the time.

  62. “… is a crime against the taxpayer, as well as against the economy…”
    But the biggest crime is against ecology itself! Cutting down trees for solar and wind “farms” is destroying wildlife habitat! These charlatans are destroying the very thing they claimed was somehow in jeopardy by burning FF – earth’s environment.
    My 1985 Buick was a much better friend to the forest than an electric car could ever be because not only were 100’s of acres of trees not cut down to power it, it also produced plenty of what trees actually like – CO2.

  63. In the midst of all the talk about ‘renewable energy and ‘limitless’ power from sun/wind, I wonder if anybody’s looked at just how renewable the rare earth minerals are that are required for all this magic (for the motors, magnets, batteries, etc) enviros have been talking forever about running out of conventional fuels, but what about the stuff that enables ‘green’ energy? Where is it, how much is commercially recoverable, and how much is needed to achieve some of the goals being proposed. I don’t have the data, but somebody must, and I think it would make an interesting model.

  64. Seems to me the writer is missing some important data. After Reagan, there were no real sizable investments in solar or wind power in the USA for a very long time. It is only after about the year 2000 that I began to notice any sizeable investments at all in the solar energy field in the USA,. So saying we have had 38 years of solar and wind power build up is a blatantly false statement. It has been very sporadic.

  65. Willis, from 1/14.(Thanks, Mike, for the information. I agree with you regarding the importance of water vapor, and the fact that CO2 is most active at the cold end of the thermal spectrum.
    One minor point is that you say:
    Starting at 13 we get CO2 absorption but that wavelength corresponds to temperatures below even that of the south pole.
    It sounds like you are saying that CO2 has almost no effect above 13 microns. In fact, CO2 absorbs strongly from about 13 to 18 microns. And although you are right that water vapor is the biggest player, the total absorption by CO2 is substantial.)
    Yes it is, but was his point not that at -50C, whether it’s 5, 15, 50 or 200 W/m^2, CO2’s effect’s going to make very little diff. to the temperature?
    GG

  66. If Carter, who had a general BS in science degree from Navy, had stayed on in the nuclear sub program, and not returned to his father’s peanut farm, perhaps he would have learned about or better comprehended what had been developed at Oak Ridge and cancelled by Nixon (who was clueless). Maybe we would have had the thorium age a long time ago and we wouldn’t be arguing over the keystone pipeline or fossil fuels.
    Anything that brings on the thorium age sooner than later, is fine with me (and I lots of stock in Exxon).

  67. Willis, wonderful post, as usual. I’d be curious if you know how much (% or dollars) of the $5 billion fossil fuels/nuke received in subsidies in 2013 was from reducing taxable income by deducting ordinary operating costs that are unique to energy but effectively no different than amortizing capital equipment (e.g. well abandonment/closure, amortization of plant/equipment, etc.) vs. direct expenditures (grants), tax credits, etc. given to wind/solar that have nothing to do with deducting operating expenses?
    Also, as other readers have pointed out, a follow up note demonstrating the actual energy received/dollar of subsidy would be very instructive and telling, especially if denominator is actual energy produced (vs. plate/rated “capacity”).
    Keep up the great work!

  68. More data to support Willis:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/19/climate-alarmists-demand-obama-use-the-rico-act-to-silence-critics/#comment-2032288
    Wind Power is what Canadian warmists typically embrace – Canada has squandered billions of dollars on worthless grid-connected wind power schemes that require life-of-project subsidies and drive up energy costs.
    Some background on grid-connected wind power schemes:
    The Capacity Factor of wind power is typically a bit over 20%, but that is NOT the relevant factor.
    The real truth is told by the Substitution Capacity, which is dropping to as low as 4% in Germany – that is the amount of conventional generation that can be permanently retired when wind power is installed into the grid.
    The E.ON Netz Wind Report 2005 is an informative document:
    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/eonwindreport2005.pdf
    (apparently no longer available from E.ON Netz website).
    Figure 6 says Wind Power is too intermittent (and needs almost 100% spinning backup);
    and
    Figure 7 says it just gets worse and worse the more Wind Power you add to the grid (see Substitution Capacity dropping from 8% to 4%).
    Same story applies to grid-connected Solar Power (both in the absence of a “Super-Battery”).
    This was all obvious to us decades ago – we published similar conclusions in 2002.
    Trillions of dollars have been wasted globally on green energy that is not green and produces little useful energy.
    Regards to all, Allan

  69. Actually, the gasoline tax was a standby meant as one person put it to applied if the American people misbehaved by using too much (in Carter’s view) gasoline. Carter also began programs to help commercialize solar hot water systems–a program which had the effect of largely bankrupting the solar industry…twice.
    All of this history is described in my book, U.S. Energy Policy and the Pursuit of Failure (Cambridge University Press 2013). Willis, if you would like a copy I’d be happy to send you one,

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