The truth about energy subsidies – solar gets 436 times more than coal

The next time some paid troll whines about coal getting government subsidies, and wind and solar being “pure” show them this.

From the Washington Times:


By Stephen Moore

One of Hillary Clinton’s wackier ideas is to build half a billion solar panels — at taxpayer expense. It would be one of the largest corporate welfare giveaways in American history. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) estimates that the cost of the plan will reach $205 billion. That’s a lot of money to throw at Elon Musk and all of Hillary’s high-powered green energy friends.

By the way, there are only 320 million people in the country so her plan would mean more solar panels than people. If Hillary has her way, the entire landscape in America will be blighted by windmills and solar panels. How is this green?

The economics here are even worse. Back in the 1970s Washington made a big bet on green energy with synthetic fuels and renewable fuels. The programs crashed and were all mercifully killed off during the Reagan years. Billions of dollars went down the drain. George W. Bush made a big bet on switch grass and wood chips to produce energy. President Obama has spent more than $100 billion on wind and solar subsidies. Instead of energy independence, we got bankruptcies like Solyndra.

A lesson of the last several decades is that the government has a horrible record of intervening in energy markets. Mr. Obama was running around the country in his first term warning that America was running out of oil. He wasn’t paying attention to the shale oil and gas revolution and the advent of clean coal technology that overnight doubled our fossil fuel resources. At the very time that natural gas prices were falling to $2 per cubic million feet, the government was trying to force feed the nation on wind and solar power which costs three to five times more per kilowatt hour of electricity.

Read more here:

h/t Dr. Roy Spencer

Here is the source of the data for the graph:

Update: Clinton’s plan looks like a big subsidy and tax credit handout. See more in this fact sheet. Graph below:


“Hillary Clinton’s solar plan will cost more than $200 billion above and beyond current projections,” according to an analysis by the free market Institute for Energy Research (IER).

“But the true cost of the plan is much higher, especially when the costs of adding this much solar power is considered,” IER reported. “Making matters even worse, electricity demand is not projected to grow enough that this new generating capacity would be needed, making Clinton’s plan even more wasteful.”

Read more:


144 thoughts on “The truth about energy subsidies – solar gets 436 times more than coal

  1. ..With all the billions wasted on “Green Energy”, we could have eradicated poverty in the U.S.A., and started to actually have an effect on the poverty in Africa…IMHO …

    • Except they are pushing the same “demonstration” green energy projects on Africa without dealing with fundamental issues there.

      • ..In reality, their goal is not to reduce any Carbon Footprint, but to reduce the Human population…IMHO….

    • I understand your point, but the dirty little secret is that no amount of government spending will ever eradicate poverty. Poverty is and will forever be tightly correlated with personal behavior, and giveaway programs not only don’t address that, they make it worse.

      • To a small degree. However, let’s be reasonable. The majority of homeless are those in transition. They somehow found themselves without a job for too long. All they really need is a roof over their heads, access to clean clothes, showers, and a phone long enough to get a job and their first and last month’s rent. A bit of aid will help them get right back up.

        There are some chronicly homeless, but most of those have serious issues, such as disabilities or mental health issues. Others have horrible addictions that need serious medical help to even become employable. Your little economic analysis of incentives needs to include that the streets are a very bad place to be, and almost no one is there just because they are lazy.

      • Ben,

        With your reference to the people living on the street, you seem to be indicating what your perception of poverty is. There is a big difference between poverty and destitute.

        Poverty in this country can not be eradicated because the definition will always be based on a certain income threshold. That threshold is always going to be based on a percentage of the population.

        A lot of people below the poverty threshold have cable TV, cell phones (their kids even have cell phones), car(s), and enough to eat to be significantly overweight. A lot of people below the poverty level have none of those things.

        Eustace is correct. We are generally going to get more of whatever we subsidize.

      • @Eustace and Ben:

        You are both right. I recall a conversation with a social worker in a NE state (starts with a V) almost 40 years ago, who told me that the only reason people were poor was because they wanted to be.

    • Well the January 2008 issue of Scientific American, a famous Science Journal, has a front cover article about proposals for two sizable (main stream) solar power projects to be built in the waste desert lands of the American South West. These desert wastelands are co-located with the pristine desert preserves, that State Senators Di Fi and Babs Boxer worked so hard to preserve for posterity and the desert tortoise, plus desert pupfish.

      It is not exactly clear how the pupfish and tortoi will get along with the solar panels and mirrors, but they should have plenty of shade. So long as the tortoi keep their feet on the ground, they are not likely to became turtle soup or turtle inhalant which the mirror farm can make, out of birds.

      The mirror farm is the more modest of the designs. That one is only 16,000 square miles of mirrors focused on boilers and birds, and bats.

      But the more serious endeavor is purely PV probably using some Hillary panels.

      That one if production size at 30,000 square miles of solar panels.

      For those who don’t really know just how long six inches is, 30,000 square miles of solar panels, is 19.2 million acres.

      If you are still lost for a measuring stick; it’s very simple.

      19.2 million acres is the exact size of the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve in Alaska.

      And everybody knows that the State of Delaware; home of the Veep Joe Biden, can fit in 12 different non overlapping sites in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve. Or if you are more familiar with Rhode Island, that can fit in 20 different non overlapping sites on 19.2 million acres. All of which are visible from Wasilla Alaska.

      So bring on those hillarious panels, we have plenty of room for them in California, and on virtual wasteland at that.


      • My neighbour, who attended a tortoise convention near Palm Springs, told me that at the convention it was revealed that the tortoise are not doing well under the mirrors due to the maintenance trucks running over them. Unintentional consequences.

      • I played golf at Primm Valley in California. It borders the Ivanpah solar farm. Finished my round at 5:30PM and the shade from the Westerm mountains was already rendering it unproductive.

        I thought the engineering would at least be a marvel to see, but in person, it looks like a badly designed eight grade science project that was bitten by a radioactive Yeti causing it to grow 1,000,000 times its original tabletop design.

      • Ah, the crispy critters, daytime flyover-at-your-own-peril (welders helmets recommended for visual safety) no-problem at-night project again. Hasn’t that gone bankrupt two or three times? Reminds me of the Osama this-time-he’s-really-dead thing.

      • Hey Ken, Those mirrors take a lot of spit and polish. POTUSBama keeps bragging about how many new jobs his renewable energy plan has created.

        You can be sure that anything that creates a whole lot of jobs in a very short time span is more expensive than something which employs fewer workers operating at higher efficiency.

        Modern technology has eliminated millions, if not billions of jobs, and in the process, created jobs with better pay and much more interesting.

        Somebody who is trained at wiping clean a desert mirror farm, will have a lot more competition at finding a job wiping tables in a fast food restaurant.

        I had one of those Desert tortoi once. Found I wandering across the street in an industrial park in Silicon Valley. It had no drill holes for a string in its shell, and it also had no new paint jobs either, and it was about a foot long.

        It got a new home in my back yard for a couple of years, which I later found out was illegal, but then somebody either left the gate open, or it burrowed under the fence. It did have a wintering burrow for a part of the year.

        Very interesting and pleasant animal, and it got along well with dog, and cat, and rabbit.

        Was sorry to lose it, but hope it found a new home. No, I would never remove one from the wild. I believe there is a rehabilitation program down there in the Mojave for tortoi that were illegally taken from the desert. They are often painted up by idiots, and have holes drilled in the shell for a leash. Yes I know it’s not really called a shell.


  2. It’s a good thing wind and solar are renewable/sustainable or they’d be really expensive.

    • If you think they are expensive now, just you wait until they are free, and then you can see real terrabucks.


      • The prefix Tera has only one R.
        And I don’t think it’s Kosher to put metric prefixes onto monetary slang.

      • Tera with one R

        But why is it not kosher [or halal for that matter] to use a metric prefix with a metric monetary system [100 cents per dollar etc] ?

        And interesting that if Americans had used more formal speech the currency of the US would be the peso [the peso de echo/piece of eight or 8 real coin] rather than the dollar. The Spanish peso was also referred to as the Spanish dollar and was the most stable, least debased western coin from the 16th to the 19th century. The US currency was a metric version of the Spanish peso or “dollar”.

        Continuing the trivia, buck was used as a term of currency exchange before the introduction of the dollar into the US as official currency. In 1748 in the “North American colonies” you could sell a barrel of whiskey for 5 “bucks” or deerskins if you found willing customers.

      • Well benofhouston, when I am referring to real down to earth money; irregardless of how much of it, I use two “R”s in the “terra”.

        Also we do in lots of places use decimal numbers for quantities of money.

        Language is for using, and I will put two “R”s in terra any time I want to.

        But you are hereby granted dispensation to not read anything I write. And that also is not a Kosher expression.

        So live with it.


      • So benofhouston’s puffery reminds me of an event many years ago, when I was listening to a radio talk program, that was hosted that day by a language professor from San Francisco State University.
        The program guest he was hosting happened to be the head of the local SF chapter of ….. mensa ….. that group of self anointed air heads.

        So I called in to the program, and got through, so I told the screener that I wanted to ask the mensahib a question.

        so the language prof, asked me what was my question for his guest.

        So I asked: “Are their any Mexican women who are members of your organization? ”

        The hostprof immediately slammed the drop dead switch so I was cut off, and the guest stammered briefly that mensa was a non racist equal opportunity organization, and anybody who could score enough points on their self made intelligence test could join.

        That was it; the host never came back to me, and asked me “what was your reason for such an off the wall question? ”

        So I never did get the opportunity to tell his guest or him, that the name of his organization, as everyone knows is a Latin root for “table”; which they chose because basically they all sit around tables as equals, and discuss what is so interesting that they all could talk about.

        Well the reason, I asked that question, was that most people are far more familiar with a totally different Latin Root for “table”, which is “mesa”.

        And we in California do know about our mesa’s, as do some other southwest States.

        But why the heck ask about Mexican women members ?

        Well you see my Mexican woman MIL happens to be a very smart person, and I once asked her if she would like to become a member of “mensa”.

        Well she just cracked up laughing, and almost had a heart attack.

        “Why on earth would I want to join an organization for crazy ladies ? ” she asked.

        You see the Latin root “mensa” also has meanings besides table, and we get the word “month” from that meaning, also “moon”.

        Apparently it has to do with ladies going crazy depending on the phases of the moon, so in colloquial Mexican Spanish, which is after all a Latin based language, a woman who is just totally barmy is referred to as “mensa”.

        So my very smart MIL did not have any tables in mind; they would be mesas to her.”

        My point was that this bunch of self anointed airheads, did not even bother to check that in Mexican plain language, their organization name means a total idiot.

        And actually there are not a few mensa-ites who are also well aware of that, including Dr. Richard Lederer, the foremost authority on the English language , with 957 books on the subject, or is it 579.

        So be careful when you assume you have the correct prefix identified, ben so you don’t end up between a rock and a pile of money.


  3. Affordable and consistent energy is the life blood of an advanced civilization.. It really does seem that Liberal Elite want us living in caves again ( a lot fewer of us, of course) while they live in their mansions (on the shores that they claim will be flooded)…and fly around on their private jets to meetings to discus which Humans will be eradicated this time… IMHO

    • Up in fig trees actually.

      No food in caves; well unless you live in a cave, in which case, YOU are the food, for some bear.


  4. “This report also does not include or attempt to quantify the value of limits to liability in case of a nuclear accident
    provided by Section 170 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the Price-Anderson Act. The Price-Anderson Act requires each operator of a nuclear power plant to obtain the maximum amount of primary coverage of liability
    insurance. Currently, the amount is about $375 million. Damages exceeding that amount would be funded with a
    retroactive assessment on all other firms owning commercial reactors based upon the number of reactors they
    own. However, Price-Anderson places a limit on the total liability to all owners of commercial reactors at about
    $13 billion.”

    So society (us taxpayers) are on the hook for anything over 13 billion. Just to put that in perspective 3 Mile Island had an estimated clean up cost of 1 billion and Chernobyl was $15 billion estimated cost of direct loss. It is estimated that the damages could accumulate to €235 billion for Ukraine and €201 billion for Belarus in the thirty years following the accident.

    I say it is time to phase out all these old clunkers and get some LFTRs (or other failsafe designs) going to replace them. This time they pay their own way and that includes insurance.

    That is the one area of contention I have with these type of reports. They don’t include insurance liability. Just like people who build next to the ocean and in flood plains then complain that insurance is not available so the government pays for it with our tax dollars.

    • There is no subsidy inherent in Price Anderson. It is a fully funded, industry wide, strict liability scheme. No victim of an accident would be required to go to court to prove negligense or malfeasance. PA’s purpose is not to protect the generators, who have effective means of limiting their liability through devices such as separate incorporation. Its purpose is to protect rate payers from having to pay super high rates to pay for an event over which they had no control. Calling it a subsidy is a distortion of the anti-nuke kooks.

      • Yep, using Price Anderson as an example of a subsidy is right out of the playbook of one R.S Esquire.

        If anything, it is another burden that the nuclear industry carries that other generators do not. PA would not be a bad thing if all power generation industries had to provide the same coverage.

      • PA does leave society with a liability for everything over 13 billion. That is fact. If it isn’t a subsidy then why would society have to pay the cost in case of a catastrophe? Other power generating industries like coal & gas don’t run the risk of making whole areas uninhabitable and as such their liability is much lower.

        If you mistook my comment as an endorsement of PA then I can ensure you it isn’t. According to Kirk Sorensen this is one of the reasons companies are looking into LFTR designs. In the future they will have to cover their own liabilities fully. That is how it should be IMHO.

      • TRM. The total PA payout on Three mile Island was $71 million. (This does not include damage to the reactor itself or decommissioning costs which are separately reserved, and are not issured)..

        I assume the $1 billion number was from the same sourc3es that the Presidential candidates use when they want to present “facts”. As for Chernobyl, I doubt that Belarus and Ukraine combined are worth $`15 billion gutted and filleted.

        And no society is not liable for anything. Only an entity that owns property can be liable in any way. Society is an abstraction that owns nothing.

        Nor should PA be an issue for reactor owners because, they can and do limit their liability to their investment by incorporation. To them PA is solely a a cost of doing business. And, as such it is less than $1 million/year/reactor.

        PA exists to protect ratepayers. It is not a subsidy of anyone in any sense.

    • So why aren’t other power plants also required to cover their liabilities in case of accidents ??


      • They are. It’s part of the various acts, including RCRA (for waste-involved accidents), OSHA (for worker safety), and common law (for everything else). I’m certain I’m missing some other acts requiring liability insurance.

    • TMI, Chernobyl and Fukishima were all light water highly pressurised reactors that were obsolete before they were constructed. The CANDU heavy water reactors simply do not have those kind of risks. The devotion to these dangerous and necessarily expensive systems seems to stem from a desire to keep the costs up – they are after all, passed along to the customers.

      That said, I support the development of Thorium as the energy source of the future, certainly the medium term future. Energy conservation will be far less important when it is cheap and inexhaustible. The current obsession with ‘efficiency’ presupposes there is a shortage. When there is no shortage, the obsession can pass.

  5. Help me.

    Are the subsidies on the Y axis per one megawatt-hour of energy produced?

    Is the graph in 2013 dollars?

    Please confirm the “unit” is MW-hr.

    This is a good graph, but I just want to be certain that I understand it properly.

    • PW, you can verify the info directly at EIA as well as the methodology including subsidy definitions. Google [EIA. Gov subsidies] to go directly to the report issued March 2015. It is the 2013 subsidy per generation type per MWh, so by definition in 2013 dollars. The chart in the post here was drawn by Washington Times using the EIA information provided in tabular form acress several tables. The EIA report was in response to a specific congressional request.

      • Reading the fine print under the research sources identifies extensive use of tax reports for ‘estimating’ fossil fuel subsidies. Once again, fossil fuel subsidies are inclusive of “reduced taxes” and “rebated taxes” as subsidies.

        In their desperation for additional ‘subsidies’ they include “interest payment support”.
        In capital purchases, the capital funds are provided from treasury funds and repaid over time (depreciation). The going treasury rates are apparently used to determine “interest rates”

        Federal and State Governments are notorious for late payment of bills.
        So notorious, that Congress instituted penalties against payments later than thirty days, including interest on the penalties.
        It looks like the penalties and interest have also been summed into the ‘subsidies’.

        There is also a note about tracking the “other fuels” used for transportation and energy production.
        That line is summed into gallon equivalent and then converted into dollars. All subsidies, rebates, interest rate reductions for converting to these “other fuels” are also rolled up into ‘subsidies’.
        Short explanation; when a Federal Agency purchases/install/leases “other fueled” equipment, (propane, biofuel, diesel), all inducements for that agency to get away from gasoline are ‘subsidies’. is definitely not trustworthy. Odds that EIA are also advised by imbedded ‘activists’?

      • ATK, true. See my guest post at CE on the True Cost of Wind for an expose of renewable EIA biases.
        BUT, that means the true situation is worse than Congress demanded EIA calculate. And the possibly biased calculation is already just awful for renewables. So, skeptics win big either way.

    • It’s written on the graph ( 2013 dollars per megawatt hour ) , does that help?

      The y axis has no units , it’s the type of energy. What kind of units are you expecting?

      • Greg,
        The label on the graph is ambiguous. I suspected that the 2013 referred to the year 2013 and not $2013.00. The label says “2013 dollars”. Not “dollars valued in the year 2013”. Then the use of “units” and MWHrs interchangeably without a statement relating their equivalence. I said subsidies on the Y axis. Not units. ..geez if you want to nit pick, at least quote me properly… Greg ( I know who you are)

    • ..If roof top Solar ONLY affected the house that owns the roof top that it sits on, I don’t see a problem…That is their CHOICE….But when everybody else has to chip in to pay for it…That is a problem…

      • Here we go again. I have solar. I paid for my solar. Any taxes that I avoided were merely a decrease in the already exorbitant amounts that the government is already stealing from me. No one else gave, paid, subsidized or chipped in for the cost. My reduction in confiscatory taxes for one year did not cost anyone else one dime.

        This argument is the equivalent of blaming retirees for taking Social Security. Stupid.


      • McComberBoy – So you reckon that “No one else gave, paid, subsidized or chipped in for the cost” of your solar panels?
        [..] Being part on the “grid” isn’t free.  The infrastructure that supports the reliable electrical service we enjoy in the United States is extremely expensive to maintain, but the people who have installed rooftop solar panels are not paying their fair share of the costs according to some estimates.  And increasingly, those costs are being paid for by lower-income and middle class people who cannot afford to install solar panels or do not have homes of their own.
        There are other costs too, besides just the increase in utility prices for consumers who must buy energy from traditional sources of power.  Solar energy is subsidized by the federal government in many different ways.  A recent analysis shows that renewables like solar have received 16 times as much tax subsidy as “fossil” fuels have in the past four years. From 2009 to 2012, renewables received $27.05 billion in tax subsidies compared to $1.69 billion for oil, gas and coal and $2.6 billion for nuclear.
        A lot of the relatively wealthy people who put solar panels on their roofs qualify for special tax breaks due to policies aimed at encouraging consumers to go green.  The companies which produce and install solar panels are also heavily subsidized by the federal government.  It doesn’t have to be that way, but the way solar energy policies have been implemented benefits upscale homeowners at the expense of working class people.
        My emphasis.

    • Just end mandates and subsides in support of “green” energy and the market will take care of removing problem sources.

      • Correct and the policymakers can also claim victory by saying they helped growth industry to the point of separation, even though it was a messy inefficient process rewarding the bad actors along the way.

  6. Elon Musk wants to produce building integrated solar products at his new solar plant in Buffalo. That amounts to double or triple stack subsidies for the electric car, the solar charging system, and whatever power storage system is involved for the car and the house. There should be some kind of national or international award for over the top subsidy mining.

    • Subsidies exist to taken advantage of. That’s the whole point. If you don’t like the subsidies, elections are around the corner.

      Not Musk’s fault. He’s running a business, not trying to get elected.

      • Actually, it’s tax credits off the tax due on the bottom line. That does take away from others and shift the tax burden.

      • It takes away from no one. It merely reduces the income of the government. Just because you get paid less this year than last, does not mean someone “took” it away from you.

      • There are also the “contributions” which are made to ensure that certain laws are passed which just coincidentally have a positive effect on the contributor as well as the contributee…

        Musk is no exception.

      • “Not Musk’s fault. He’s running a business, not trying to get elected.”

        I’m not so sure. I would be looking at who Musk gave campaign donations to. It’s usually very informative.

      • Well when that “tax credit” is in lieux of expensing your business expenses, when you make the expenditure, then it IS taking resources away from the business, because of the present value of money.

        If I buy printer ink to print my advertisements, or perhaps my children’s books that I publish, I can deduct the price I paid for that ink as a cost of doing business, and I have to cover my costs or else I will go out of the children’s book publishing business.

        I don’t have a dime to spend on food and clothing or anything else, until I have covered my costs.

        But if I spend some money on a new printer that can print twice as fast and use half as much ink, for some stupid reason, the gumming wants me to wait a while so money becomes less valuable, before I am allowed to keep the money I will need to buy my next printer to stay in the children’s book publishing business.

        Oil depletion allowances are an enforced asset depreciation of my oil wells and drills and pumping equipment that I need to keep running to stay in the business.
        The gummint requires me to wait to save up money for a new printer, instead of buying it when I need it, and adding the cost to my cost of business for that fiscal year in which I buy it. So let the oil companies expense their well drilling and hunting costs, instead of asking for some handout.


  7. I keep asking the liberals how we would install half a billion 500,000,000 solar panels in 4 years. That would be installing 34245 panels a day 365 days a year for 4 years. Then how to pay for them, Then what to do when the sun isn’t shining. They keep killing my high tech jobs by killing coal, steel, paper etc. so I have to drive farther to work since the jobs are gone. What am I supposed to run my truck on unicorn farts?

    • Only if you can find a unicorn to fart in a bottle for you. Personally, I’ve had an extremely hard time just finding a dang unicorn.

  8. Anthony, great article about the reality of “Renewable Energy”, but I am sure Mosh /SeaIce and that weird chick will be here soon to attack you …I await with baited breath for you to destroy their fantasies….

  9. Solar panels made in China while they build Nukes and more fossil plants-before 2030.
    what is wrong with this picture?

  10. what sort of plant life can grow around a solar field? grass seems the only thing. how much CO2 can grass digest as opposed to other plant life? This nonsense really does not seem to be about the climate at all.
    Soon eugenics will rear its ugly head.

    • Plants need sunlight. Solar plants need sunlight too. You can only feed one plant at a time. So nothing will grow under a solar farm, but around them, where the sun shines, something might grow. But you need rain, and they don’t put solar plants where it rains much.


  11. I would appreciate seeing a break out of just what those so called subsidies are.
    So far the only “subsidies” that I have seen for the fossil fuel industries are things like resource depletion allowances, which aren’t subsidies. Or government spending on waste nuclear fuel storage, which is in fact paid for by a tax on nuclear plants.

    • And the government is not providing any storage because Obama and crooked Harry Reid have blocked the Yucca Mountain facility.

    • MarkW, a “breakout of just what those so called subsidies are” can be found in the EIA report linked to in the main article.
      Table ES2 shows that for fossil fuels, less than 10% of the “subsidies” are a “Direct Expenditure”, 7% for coal & less than 3% for natural gas and petroleum liquids. The largest “subsidies” are called “Tax Expenditures”, ie., companies are allowed to deduct various costs which reduces their tax liability.

      Coal: $74 million in direct expenditure, $769 million in reduced tax liability, and $202 million in allowable R&D credits. Of that reduced tax liability, Table 2 shows that $400 million was for “Amortization of Certain Pollution Control Facilities”. So the Gov’t says that allowing you to reduce your taxes because of costs to comply with their regulations is a “subsidy”. Well, I guess if they think it all belongs to them, it makes sense (/sarc).

      For renewables the situation is entirely different, with more direct expenditures than tax expenditures: $7.4 billion in direct subsidies and $3.4 billion in tax subsidies.

      Bottom line, if you looked only at direct subsidies, the chart in the article would show only about $0.02 per megawatt hour for fossil fuels, versus $25 per megawatt hour for wind & $129 per megawatt hour for solar. Over 1,000 to 5,000 times as much direct subsidy for wind and solar than for fossil fuel energy sources per megawatt hour of power produced.

  12. “…natural gas prices were falling to $2 per cubic million feet…”

    I’m not in the gas business bur I don’t think this is right.

    • Its per mbtu, not cubic feet. Price is now back up to $3 thanks to decline in associated gas and decline curves in fracked shale wells, and will likely be at a sustainable $4/mbtu by end of this winter. Enough to get shale rigs drilling again.

      • Yes and it will be interesting to see what comes of such massive shift of gas over coal generation in combination with some hard winters. I’m waiting for the winter of 2017-18 for the case in point.

      • At any price below about $8/mbtu, gas is favored over coal–any coal no matter how low sulfur, low ash, and cheap. Three reasons. 1. CCGT capex is ~$1500/kw while USC coal is ~$4000/kw. 2. CCGT takes 2-2.5 years to bring on while USC coal is ~4 years. 3. CCGT thermal efficiency is 61% while USC coal is 41-45% depending on unit size.

      • Thanks, but we’re not actually talking about building coal plants in a lot of these recent decisions. The older and smaller coal units are shutting down now without building decisions involved, except on the CCGT side. It looks like new or existing gas vs. old and existing coal. The place that makes no sense at all is Kemper.

      • “will likely be at a sustainable $4/mbtu by end of this winter”

        Don’t bet on it. 30% of US NG comes out of the Marcellus field. Even with Henry hub prices above $3.00/mmBtu, the Dominion South hub near the Marcellus field is below $1.00/mmBtu.

        Lots of underutilized pipelines from Pennsylvania to Lousiana. But they mostly are configured to flow NG to the north. Not that expensive to turn them around.

        Several are already reversible, but I’m shocked most still aren’t. Lots of money to be made buying NG in Pennsylvania and selling it in Lousiana. And the owners of those pipelines are in the perfect position to do it.

      • Gm, you might be right. But only because of inadequate/forbidden to build pipeline capacity from PA (Marcellus) to New England. Get a bad winter, people will find a way. My price forecast is backed by significant futures options. Ditto for oil by YE 2016 and end 2Q17. Have you studied enough to put money where your mouth is on either, as I already have months ago?

      • I’ve got my NG related bets (investments) placed on Cheniere and Clean Energy Fuels currently. Worth checking them out if you haven’t.

        Cheniere I like because of the 20-year contracts.

        Clean Energy because of RFS2. (Thus my studying it.)

        Not willing to bet on NG futures one way or the other, but I’ve done a fair amount of research. It’s very hard to figure out the pipeline situation from the Marcellus field to the HH area. Lots of idle pipelines, but no one seems to be reversing them currently? Are we in for a surprise or two? 2 or 3 BCF/day of newly reversed pipelines would really hurt HH prices. Also new pipelines from the Marcellus area to the Southeast (Georgia) and to the Midwest (Illinois) are being built from scratch. As those open, they will take market share away from HH producers.

        It’s also hard to figure out how fast exports to Mexico are climbing.

        If Mexico can take more NG away from the Gulf Coast than new pipeline capacity from Marcellus can bring it in, then you may have put your money in the right place.

        I doubt Cheniere’s 1.3 BCF/day out take is enough to have much impact on HH, but you never know. Supposed to be 2.6 BCF/day by early 2018 as I recall.

    • Ah yes the fuels with low BTU/volume that require you to burn more to produce equal energy. And, create more CO2 in the process…but it is green CO2!

    • RNG (renewable natural gas) is the current hope for truly Renewable Fuels. It only has about 1% of the production of ethanol, but it just might work up to the few billions of gallons level. Did about 140 million gallons in 2015. Should hit 200 million gallons in 2016. The current “estimate” is 312 million gallons in 2017.

      This is about a 15 million gallon a year plant opening in CO right now. Already at 60% of full capacity. Expected to hit 100% by next summer (2017).

      RNG is treated as a near 100% reduction in CO2 because all the RNG (methane) is naturally produced regardless of what we do with it. ie. Manure, human waste, landfills all produce methane. Might as well collect it up and burn it in trucks.

      California is providing the subsidies to make that plant economically viable, but I don’t know how big the subsidy is. (or maybe its a non-cash incentive).

  13. It would be interesting to check a listing of solar investors against a listing of Clinton Family Foundation donors. Considerable overlap would not suprise me.

  14. It was not that long ago that the greens touted natural gas as the Clean-Green gateway to the future. Some of us recognized that if by some magic, NG would become cheap and abundant, then the greens would do an about face and turn on NG with a vengeance. Then fracking happened and we all know the rest.

    OK everybody, Prophecy Time!
    If electric cars and/or solar voltaic panel become cheap, reliable and practical;
    What will the greens howl “End Of The World” about?

    My entry: Damage to Gaia caused by mining rare or exotic metals (read as unfamiliar to them) needed for manufacture.

  15. “Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of Hillary’s first term.” (That would mean installed solar PV capacity of 140 gigawatts by the end of 2020, up 700 percent from current levels and well beyond most forecasts.)”

    140 GW of solar panels will generate about as much electricity as 35 GW of coal- or gas-fired generation.  This wouldn’t even be a “drop in the bucket”…


    Data from BP and U.S. EIA (Click for larger image.)

    • Once again, providing conclusive proof that liberals just can’t do math.
      In this case, the question “Is this number larger or smaller than this other number?”, leaves them flummoxed.

    • The devil is in the details that lawyer politicians never get into, like the 4X price difference between panels on the roof versus panels in a utility scale project. Win-the-day politics has moved up to the trillion dollar price tag and they still get away with it. I suppose that is the back story for the underlying need for the carbon tax revenue generation crusade.

  16. Climate activists and renewables lobbyists are acting like Mad Hatters, twisting language and logic to pursue their agendas. Society is subsidized and made wealthy by fossil fuels, not the other way around. Some of that wealth is being diverted to renewable energy companies who do not create enough value to be in business without direct payments of tax dollars. They prove it by declaring bankruptcy when their subsidies are reduced. Worse, hooking up wind and solar intermittent power to electrical grids adds more cost and unreliability than the renewable power is worth.

  17. It looks like the RE subsidy concept has infected the whole world. It will likely take a couple of generations for this to flow through the population and get corrected once they realize that all their plastic toys, bicycles, computers, groceries, travel, clothing, heating and cooling, even the roads they drive on, are largely dependent on fossil fuels and most RE is expensive. However, it will probably take until the current crop of believers expire 30 or so years after those of us who prospered with fossil fuels have expired.

    In the mean time, Carbon Taxes will be used to subsidize uneconomic and environment destroying large scale Renewables long into the future – like here in Alberta:

    “Not many people know that the Government of Alberta has been 100% renewable for a decade. This initiative gave the wind energy industry the early leg-up they required to become the cost-competitive clean option that they are for the province today. We expect that this new solar energy initiative will not only help our industry to overcome some preliminary hurdles in Alberta, but to also deliver the lowest cost solar electricity in Canada’s history” – Patrick Bateman, Director of Policy & Market Development, CanSIA

    (note – I am not sure the supply of 100% of the “government” electricity is a quantifiable number).

    I just added a propane boiler loop to my water to water electricity powered heat pump because I know electricity prices will “necessarily skyrocket.”

    • Australia too. Even in the aftermath of the South Australian statewide blackout on the 28th of September, the states aren’t backing off from their stupid targets

      Queensland: 50% renewable energy by 2030

      Victoria: 25% renewable energy by 2020, 40% renewable energy by 2025

      South Australia: 50% renewable energy by 2025

      The commitment to ideology in the face of reality by politicians is truly remarkable

      • And here is a draft report for Credible pathways to a 50% renewable energy target for Queensland

        It is full of ridiculous assumptions and projections (including CAGW, of course). I sent the Renewable Energy Expert Panel a 5 page document outlining issues with the target a few months ago which pointed out the effect on South Australia which had a renewable penetration level lower than 40%. I linked in a February AEMO report describing the risks that South Australia was facing yet two weeks after the blackout, this rubbish gets released without any acknowledgement of the AEMO warnings.

        So it seems a few more blackouts will be needed to make the public take the politicians and lobbyists to account. Hopefully, they will be confined to South Australia since the residents, businesses and industries have already had practise coping with no grid supply.

  18. I was puzzled by the “subsidy” definition as I know of none for Coal. Then I read the definitions in the EIA report. It is a 2 edged sword.

    Part of the definition is:

    Direct expenditures to producers or consumers. These are federal programs that provide direct cash outlays which provide a financial benefit to producers or consumers of energy.

    So the “Coal” subsidies are merely payments to people who are in poverty (energy assistance programs). The other edge of that sword is that since the Feds are going to subsidize the individual, then the higher the cost of the energy they are using, the higher the subsidy (there are 3 different classes of subsidy, so not all is payments to consumers). And thus the differences are probably exaggerated a little.

    For comparison, that part probably should be removed, but the report does not quantify it. On the other hand, it is a cost from your pocket to someone elses that gives you no benefit, so in that respect, it is still a valid comparison.

    • Most of the “subsidies” that the oil & gas industry receives are simply cost-recovery accounting measures. Much of the cost of exploration, drilling and production are capital expenditures which have to be written off against the asset over time. Our “subsidies” mostly consist of being able to treat some of these costs as expenses and write them off as they occur, rather than over several years or even decades.

      • I’m currently researching the RFS2 law. It is a huge $15B impact on the O&G companies at present.

        But subsidy would be the wrong word. After all, the EPA is forcing the O&G refinery operators to take $15B out of their bank accounts and give it to ethanol producers. And they in turn are buying 20% of the country’s corn.

        So I don’t know what to call that $15B. It’s not a sir-tax exactly. But it is the equivalent of gov’t reaching into refineries pockets and pulling out $15B and then giving it to the ethanol industry.

        Clearly the opposite of a subsidy.

      • gregfremeyer: That is very interesting. So I would make that a subsidy to the ethanol producers and corn producers from the O & G industry. Which of course will recoup its loses via higher prices. A very roundabout, and underhanded IMHO, way to give a subsidy to some groups at the expense of another.

        It hides the details so that the government can appear to be helping the ethanol producers and farmers supposedly without using tax dollars. Very underhanded. In the end we pay as always.

  19. Great article.

    Clearly exposes the government funding bias enjoyed by politically driven renewables which wind and solar advocates hide from view through deception and distortion.

  20. Let them do it. That is the only way they will learn the truth. It will be the most catastrophically wasteful industrial failure in world history and will push the US economy into default. Attrition comes before contrition.

  21. In a normal, non-insane market, an inferior product is sold at a discount price compared to higher quality competitors. Only in the state’s idea of capitialism is this reversed.

    How many more decades of insane government spending whimsy must we endure before people realize they have given the state too much power? Note to political optimists: it’s not the people we elect that has things so messed up. It’s the unchecked power we’ve given the state.

  22. We have just past the point, earlier this year, where there are now 1000 million (1 billion) vehicles in the world. If all petrol and diesel engines were replaced by electric engines and each one needed recharging every night how many terrawatt hours of extra power would be needed. Somebody must be able to do a “back of the envelope” calculation however my knowledge, I was in Dentistry all my working life, doesn’t stretch to it. All I know is it would take a lot of windmills and PV cells just to charge up our means of transport and yet no politician seems to be aware of, or consider, this in all of their fancy schemes for decarbonising the economy.

    • Let me give you a rough lower bound. The chevy Volt has a 17.1 kwh battery and an all electric range of 38 miles. The battery range was chosen because about 2/3 of all US trips are less than 40 miles. Hence a rough lower bound only (tesla range is ~200 miles). So a billion (1*10^9) such vehicles with a daily charge requires 17.1*10^9 kwh. That is 17.1*10^6 MWh. The Volt (at 220V) charges in 4.5 hours. So to a first order approximation, about (17.1/4.5h) 4*10^6MW of additional capacity; less if charging times are completely random–but they wont be. Charging is during the night and at 120v takes 13 hours. So only something like 4 million (thousand thousand) MW of additional capacity.
      At 1000MW per plant (say Westinghouse AP1000 third generation nuclear design) being vehicle green ‘only’ requires building ~4 thousand additional nucs. Southern is building 2 at Vogtle for $8.5 billion. We should get a volume discount–say $4 billion each. ‘Only’ requires a $16 thousand billion investment. $16 trillion, capital cost only. Warmunist chump change.

      • Thank you very much for your answer ristvan. I felt it was going to be a large figure but it is even larger than I thought. What a talking point when dealing with our eco friends. I don’t think they’d like that many extra nuclear plants in the world as they are not too keen on the existing ones.

  23. We are going to need all the electricity generation we can get: solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol generated out of thin air and unicorn-powered vehicles.

    Because you know what’s coming next.

  24. Back in the 1970s Washington made a big bet on green energy with synthetic fuels and renewable fuels.

    There was a big difference between now and then. The 1973 and 1979 oil crisis were a huge shock to the economy. National security was at stake. We had to look at all the possibilities and we didn’t know how things would turn out.

    Today, on the other hand, we are swimming in oil. What’s happening is a completely self inflicted injury.

    What we can learn from the 1970s is that cheap energy is a foundation of our prosperity. Take that away and we will suffer. People will be less happy and healthy.

    The CAGW alarmists are willing to send me to an early grave. I fear, and therefore, hate them.

    • Regardless of the difference, the US is currently also investing billions into renewable fuels via the RFS2 rules.

      18 Billion gallons of renewable fuel the O&G industry is being forced to buy this year. 80% ethanol that goes for $0.85/gallon. So the US is throwing about $15B this year at renewable transportation fuel.

      That doesn’t count the wind/solar subsidies. Sorry to bring you that bad info.

  25. I’m surprised Stephen Moore used data that recent. He’s not known for that or doing his homework when giving speeches in other states about their taxes.

  26. Are the idling (for fast response) single-cycle gas-powered generating plants also subsidized? They are needed to fill in for solar at night and on cloudy days, for wind when the wind stops, and for both when there are sudden interruptions. And are they considered part of a wind/solar system?

  27. “natural gas prices were falling to $2 per cubic million feet”

    10^6 * 10^6 * 10^6 would be 10^18. I’ve forgotten how to even say that!

    Ok, one quintillion. I looked it up. If you’re willing to sell me a quintillion cubic feet of natural gas for $2, I’ll take it!
    You might want to fix that. I think you meant $2/mmBtu. Or $2/thousand cubic feet. Both are appropriate at this level of accuracy.

    • I do not, having just searched using six years of highly developed Google-foo (three ebooks) on your behalf. But suspect they are much higher based on things like feed in tariffs and capacity constraint payments. Paul Homewood’s UK blog has a lot of posts from which you may be able to construct an equivalent chart with minimal research effort, just calculations in an Excel spreadsheet.

  28. It’s not the subsidy, which is mildly worrisome. It’s the intentional misalignment between propaganda and reality that discourages a reasonable assessment.

  29. I wonder if the cost of solar per unit of power generated includes the extra cost needed to stabilise the grid in case of sudden withdrawal?

  30. The fallacy of wind turbines is revealed with simple arithmetic.

    5 mW wind turbine, avg output 1/3 nameplate, 20 yr life, electricity @ wholesale 3 cents per kwh produces $8.8E6.
    Installed cost @ $1.7E6/mW = $8.5E6. Add the cost of standby CCGT for low wind periods. Add the cost of land lease, maintenance, administration.

    Solar voltaic and solar thermal are even worse.

    The dollar relation is a proxy for energy relation. Bottom line, the energy consumed to design, manufacture, install, maintain and administer renewables appears to exceed the energy they produce in their lifetime.

    Without the energy provided by other sources these renewables could not exist.

  31. If you want to see really horrendous subsidies, check out the subsidies for nuclear power in the UK. It adds up to about £10 per year for each consumer. Most of the profit will go to China or France. What was that about domestic solar panels again?

  32. We really need to sort out the definitions being used.
    The cheapest source of energy cannot possibly be subsidized under any useful definition.
    By ‘useful’ I mean one which is a conserved quantity.
    When people include arbitrary tax breaks as subsidies the definition becomes that of a quantity which is not conserved and can be decided arbitrarily.
    If we stick to a conserved quantity then it can be used as an estimate of the energy being consumed by these so-called energy sources.

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