Originally published at CFACT June 15, 2017
Is investing government funds (subsidies) into solar energy a good idea?
The short answer is no.
First, the cost of solar energy is typically twice as expensive compared to conventional sources of energy such as coal, oil, and natural gas. It has proven to be both costly to the taxpayer and grossly inefficient as a source of energy.
According to data produced by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), it takes 374,000 solar workers produce only 0.9% of the total electricity in America. That means that it would take 79 solar employees to produce the same amount of energy as 1 coal worker. The Washington Examiner did a great job of explaining this in greater detail.
Second, there are many hidden costs and unforeseen factors that must be considered. Paul Driessen, the senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism, wrote extensively about these factors in a recent article.
Third, we also need to take a look at how effective these investments actually are in regards to reducing greenhouse gasses – one of the central benefits claimed by their advocates. Nearly $50 billion was spent on ‘green energy’ subsidies in 2016. As a result, there was little to no reduction of greenhouse gasses reported.
Finally, the government is typically a bad investor and confuses “free market” signals by artificially dumping money into the market. Solyndra was a well-known solar company who declared bankruptcy after receiving more than $500 million from the government. This is just one of many examples.
In some ways, these subsidies are simply a way for the government to try and pick the winners and losers. Typically, the bigger and wealthier companies, who can afford lobbyists, win the contracts. After winning these contracts, innovation is often delayed because there isn’t an incentive to make the energy source profitable or affordable.
So, what is the solution?
Let the free market and private sector take the lead on innovating and developing cost effective solutions for cleaner and sustainable energy.
Green energy needs to innovate in order to make the price more competitive in the energy market. Jim Nelson, the CEO of Sunworks, is the perfect example. He explains in an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News, how the publicly traded company is innovating to make more efficient solar panels without government subsidies.
Also, the government is pouring billions of taxpayer dollars (your money) into solar companies that are creating expensive, inefficient, and unviable products. If the government decided to invest in green energy, the most productive use of the money would be to promote innovation in the private sector. Innovation is the only possible way to make solar energy more competitive with other energy sources.
Many have praised the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which is a government program that invests in innovation. There are still negative impacts of using taxpayer dollars for this program, but it is a significantly better solution than giving money to unproductive companies.