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Fossil Fuel Subsidies Dwarf Support For Renewables

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hedging-against-a-massive-sunlight-spill-in-the-gulf dept.

Earth 172

TravisTR sends word of research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance which found that direct subsidies for renewable energy from governments worldwide totaled $43-46 billion in 2009, an amount vastly outstripped by the $557 billion in fossil fuel subsidies during 2008. "The BNEF preliminary analysis suggests the US is the top country, as measured in dollars deployed, in providing direct subsidies for clean energy with an estimated $18.2bn spent in total in 2009. Approximately 40% of this went toward supporting the US biofuels sector with the rest going towards renewables. The federal stimulus program played a key role; its Treasury Department grant program alone provided $3.8bn in support for clean energy projects. China, the world leader in new wind installations in 2009 with 14GW, provided approximately $2bn in direct subsidies, according to the preliminary analysis. This figure is deceptive, however, as much crucial support for clean energy in the country comes in form of low-interest loans from state-owned banks. State-run power generators and grid companies have also been strongly encouraged by the government to tap their balance sheets in support of renewables."

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No Surprises Here (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094642)

The fossil fuel industry has a lobbing campaign that dwarfs that of renewable energy. 'nuf said.

Re:No Surprises Here (3, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094902)

The fossil fuel industry has a lobbing campaign that dwarfs that of renewable energy. 'nuf said.

Ah, yes, it's all about the lobbyists. It can't have anything to do with the scale difference between the renewable energy industry and the fossil fuel industry.

You know what REALLY pisses me off? I, as an individual, get close to ZERO subsidies! Where's my $40 billion? I demand equal treatment!

Re:No Surprises Here (1, Troll)

tenco (773732) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095026)

You know what REALLY pisses me off? I, as an individual, get close to ZERO subsidies! Where's my $40 billion? I demand equal treatment!

Without subsidies your electricity bill would be larger.

Re:No Surprises Here (2, Insightful)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095112)

The taxes paid by the FF industry...dwarf the subsidies they receive, however. In the case of the major oil companies it's very dubious that they should still get handouts, but some of the tax breaks have been useful to small operators; about 2 million barrels per day of US oil production comes from stripper wells that have Mineral Rights | Oil & Gas Lease and Royalty Information

Re:No Surprises Here (3, Interesting)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095164)

Whoops, /. truncated me there big time. About 2 million barrels per day of US oil production comes from stripper wells that have 10 barrels per day of output, most of these are from small time operators not the majors, and have been a major factor in keeping the decline in US production low since it peaked at the beginning of the 70s. Tax breaks for these nickel and dime operations help. Also oil companies Big and otherwise pay a heap more taxes than they receive subsidies. Just saying. US is one of few nations where a person can own mineral rights.

Re:No Surprises Here (5, Interesting)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096000)

Yes, this article is somewhat misleading. First, it's talking about world wide subsidies, which considering most of the world's oil is owned produced by state owned companies is likely a very complicated calculation. This article [cleantech.com] puts US subsidies at between $15 and $35 billion, numbers that include some very dubious things in there, such as construction of the highway system, the strategic petroleum reserve etc.
What people don't seem to understand is the motivation for US subsidies. The US government wants to encourage as much domestic production as is reasonably possible, and they don't want a government entity to have to produce it (like countries with nationalized oil industries do). The only way to do this, therefore, is to make it more attractive for oil companies to extract oil that would otherwise be uneconomical. "Relaxing the amount of royalties to be paid", as the link above calls it, is I believe the main way the US government supports the oil industry.
If these royalties reductions weren't in place, many of the wells in America would simply be uneconomical. The stripper wells mentioned by someone before wouldn't stand a chance, and collectively they account for 18% of US production (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ). Without deep water credits, much of the gulf production would be an economic non starter (and gulf production is about a third of US production). And the overriding thing that people ignore is that 50% of zero is less than 5% of something. If you force a stripper well producing 2 barrels a day to pay a regular royalty, you're not going to bring in more money for the government, you're going to force that well to be plugged and abandoned, and it's probably never going to be economical to redrill it. Both the government and the industry loses.
It is expensive to extract oil in America's increasingly depleted fields, particularly compared to the younger and much larger oil provinces of the middle east and elsewhere. Because of this, the US government grants the oil industry here better incentives than in those countries to try and keep them in America - simply put, they allow the companies to keep more of the oil they produce. Maybe Americans are no longer comfortable with that deal, but they must remember that hiking royalties will significantly lower US production and will necessitate greater imports from unsavory places.

Re:No Surprises Here (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096268)

The only way to do this, therefore, is to make it more attractive for oil companies to extract oil that would otherwise be uneconomical.

If it's "uneconomical" to drill that for as much as 2 million barrels of domestic supply, wouldn't you think this is a big incentive to increase development of alternative sources of energy?

The reason these subsidies irk a lot of people is because the same conservative "grass-roots" "think-tanks" and the Chamber of Commerce that are all about letting the God of the Free Market control everything would howl with outrage if these subsidies to oil companies were to be cut off or even reduced.

There's no where near a concerted effort to develop alternative energy in the US, despite environmental disasters of enormous scale, including a million barrels now dumped into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Yet, any time alternative energy is mentioned, you'll hear scoffing and arguments such as "Alternative energy is never going to replace energy" or "If it was going to happen, it would have happened already" or "Solar energy can never be useful because it wasn't useful ten years ago".

What they're really saying is "Nothing's going to replace fossil fuels until we find another source of energy that will enrich the same corporations and to the same extent that are currently getting rich from fossil fuels". If there was a way that BP or Exxon could get hugely rich off of solar energy, solar energy would have replaced fossil fuels decades ago.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095402)

The taxes paid by the FF industry...dwarf the subsidies they receive, however.

Any evidence to back this up? Or are you just guessing?

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

TastyCakes (917232) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095810)

Compare this [taxfoundation.org] to this [cleantech.com] .

Re:No Surprises Here (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096342)

The fossil fuel industry shows profits in the hundreds of billions.

And they still expect to be paid by the government to convince them it's worth their time to make hundreds of billions.

I'm sorry, but that's just ridiculous. And the same people who believe the free market should determine everything about our lives also believe those subsidies to oil companies are absolutely necessary. And a remarkable number of those people are the same ones who will tell you that we absolutely must continue to pay huge cost overruns and ridiculous markups to military contractors, because otherwise, they might not want to make all that great hardware with which we fight our glorious wars.

Oh, and absolutely no negotiating with pharmaceutical companies, because otherwise they won't want to do the research and make the pills that earn them hundreds of billions in profits. And although CEOs must be free to negotiate hundred-million dollar salaries because that's the free market at work no workers must be allowed to collectively negotiate their salaries because that would HURT the free market. Got that? CEO's negotiating = Good / Workers negotiating = Bad

Re:No Surprises Here (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096074)

Without subsidies your electricity bill would be larger.

And that would be a good thing. It makes sense that the people who use electricity should pay for electricity.
This is known as a "market economy," and it encourages things like efficiency, and matching the supply to the demand.

There's some sense to subsidizing an emerging technology: encouraging the fledgling technologies in hope some of them will grow could result in a large payout further down the line. There's no sense in subsidizing the giants.

...In the case of the major oil companies it's very dubious that they should still get handouts, but some of the tax breaks have been useful to small operators...

And only a trivial percentage of the tax breaks actually go to small operators, because the big operators have much more money to lobby with; and also much more money to pay lawyers to find the loopholes to enable them to qualify for the subsidies intended to support small operators. (Much like farm subsidies, actually-- the bills that are passed because they will be "supporting America's family farms" actually end up supporting the huge factory operations.)

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095280)

Without subsidies your electricity bill would be larger.
Subsidies aren't magic. They come from taxes. Without the taxes which support this subsidy and the associated bureaucratic and overhead waste, my electricity cost would be higher, but my total household cost would be lower.

Re:No Surprises Here (0, Flamebait)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095308)

I'm sure subsidies are somewhat wrapped up in the $13Trillion in US national debt. Most of which was brought about by the Bush 2 administration who had direct ties to the oil industry.

wrong (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095598)

The debt is LARGER.
Deficit is all people talk about and often confuse with the debt. The total debt is higher but when we had a "surplus" instead of using that to pay down the debt, the public thought we were in the green again !?#@!
You can't ignore your mortgage because you stopped going in the hole every month!

As far as this national debt blabbing its hype - because it was a non-starter before 2009. During WWII the deficit was much higher; although, we had a real GDP back then. Also, the total debt was lower back then... but then now we monopolize the new gold standard: the US dollar -- that is until it gets so weak that it loses status or more nations allow OIL to be purchased in euros. We may have gone off gold, but we realistically traded it for OIL we didn't have but was sold in dollars...

Re:wrong (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095958)

...the $13Trillion in US national debt

The debt is LARGER.

The USA's national deficit in 2009 was $1.4 Trillion. [cbo.gov] The USA's total (or gross) national debt was, as of July 29, 2010, $13.2 Trillion. [treasurydirect.gov] The post you replied to was correct.

... we had a real GDP back then.

Real GDP [wikimedia.org] is a relative measure of the economic output [wikimedia.org] of some predefined region in a particular year adjusted for inflation [wikimedia.org] from some base year.

...we monopolize the new gold standard

There is no longer a gold standard [wikimedia.org] (or fixed exchange rate of dollars and goal). When it existed in the USA, it had nothing to do with a monopoly over some good.

...we realistically traded it [gold?] for OIL we didn't have but was sold in dollars...

I don't think that I can help you on this part. I don't even know what you are trying to convey.

You started off strong, though slightly off-topic, with your true comment about people often confusing deficit with debt. But your comment degraded quickly as you continued. Thanks for letting us know that you are confused... I hope I've helped.

Re:wrong (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095978)

but when we had a "surplus" instead of using that to pay down the debt, the public thought we were in the green again !?#@!

We haven't had a surplus in the Federal government since 1956. That particular surplus went from 1955-56, and totalled $4 billion before we went back to spending more than we take in taxes.

No, Clinton and the Republican Congress didn't have a surplus, even once, in spite of what either side would have you believe. The closest they got was $18 billion in the red in Clinton's last year in office - impressive in itself to get the deficit that small even once, but not a surplus.

Re:wrong (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096174)

As far as this national debt blabbing its hype - because it was a non-starter before 2009.

Yes, this was an amazing thing. The Republican rhetoric was very much talking about fiscal responsibility and balancing the budget... right up until a Republican president had a Republican majority in congress. At that point, with amazing suddenness, the Republicans stopped talking about fiscal responsability, and the Republican president didn't see any expenditures that didn't look just fine to him. Talking about the debt was-- as you say-- a "non-starter." In fact, I even heard the Republicans say that balancing the budget "wasn't important." (The technical term for this was "big government conservatism." Google it-- it's apparently not an oxymoron.)

Then, when the Republicans stop controlling Congress, all of a sudden, wham, they start talking about the desperate need for fiscal responsibilty.

Conclusion? The party in power likes to spend money. Don't pay attention to how they talk; pay attention to what they do.

No, Clinton and the Republican Congress didn't have a surplus, even once, in spite of what either side would have you believe. The closest they got was $18 billion in the red in Clinton's last year in office - impressive in itself to get the deficit that small even once, but not a surplus.

To be fair, when you get to numbers that are low, it depends on the details of how you account. The current way the budget of the US is accounted includes social security. If you include social security as income (and payments as expenses), and if you count "the government buying debt from itself" as well as "the government paying interest to itself" as a wash, the Clinton administration did run a slight "surplus."

In any case, it was damn impressive that he got the budget under control to the point where it was even close.

Re:wrong (2, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096340)

If you include social security as income (and payments as expenses), and if you count "the government buying debt from itself" as well as "the government paying interest to itself" as a wash, the Clinton administration did run a slight "surplus."

So, do you think that you have more money to spend when you lend yourself money and then pay that money back to yourself with interest? I didn't think so.

In any case, it was damn impressive that he got the budget under control to the point where it was even close.

Give credit to the Republican Congress as well. It's not like the previous (or subsequent) Democratic Congress has made any attempts to rein in expenditures. Not that I consider a less than $20 billion surplus in one year as making up for the ~$1.4 trillion net deficit for that eight year period.

Personally, I never give any President credit/blame for budget surpluses/deficits. The House and Senate, whether Republican or Democrat, deserve all the blame/credit for that. And if more Americans would remember that come polling time, we'd probably all be better off.

Note, in addition, that if the Congress runs up a couple trillion in debt in any two year period, but you vote YOUR congressmen back in because they voted against it, then you're doing the wrong thing too - strategic voting has always been part of politics ("I can't vote for your gun control measure unless it's absolutely required to make the measure pass, since my constituents would kick me out if I did. So I'll provide vote number 51 of 51, but if there are already 51, I'll vote no...."), and should never be discounted....

Re:No Surprises Here (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095178)

I'd like to know why they include military expenses as a "subsidy" for fossil fuels. We don't have to use the military to get oil from Iran or Iraq - we could buy it from friendly countries like Canada, UK, Russia.

Also renewable energy like solar cells, hydroelectric, and so on need military protection as well (from invasion or terrorism). So the military expenses should be on that tally sheet too, but they conveniently left it off.

Re:No Surprises Here (4, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095300)

I'd like to know why they include military expenses as a "subsidy" for fossil fuels.
Because it helps to spin the story to express the viewpoint which they would like you to believe and they hope that most people will not dig too deeply and just accept them at their word.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095552)

We don't have to use the military to get oil from Iran or Iraq - we could buy it from friendly countries like Canada, UK, Russia.

My guess at the neocon rationale: What happens when Canada, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Russia start to run out?

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096008)

Well that is logical. It makes more sense to drain countries like Venezuela and Arabia and Iran dry of oil, while you leave your own reserves untouched. Then circa 2050 you can sell your North American oil for big bucks.

Re:No Surprises Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095772)

You talk some shit. The UK is a net importer of oil, so I don't think there's too much left over to sell to the mighty US of A.

Honestly, I get fed up with the facile crap that you spew onto slashdot. Every single post is calculated to score some easy mod points from the dickheads who take this place seriously. You're a boring arsehole. PS Yes I had a ZX Spectrum, fuck you! :)

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095860)

Could have bought it from Iraq, too, instead of trying to keep them from exporting it. Everyone else was doing it, but apparently America didn't wanna be one of the cool kids.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096390)

We spend more than all the other nations of the world COMBINED on our military and other defense. We need to shift that money elsewhere or at least try to conquer the world so we have something to show for it. Apparently we are doing the latter, but they are doing a damn poor job of it.

Re:No Surprises Here (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096424)

Yes, but the oil companies do like the cheaper higher grade stuff from the Middle East. Why in the world else would we be so involved in the Middle East decade after decade while refusing to intervene in places that actually ASK for our help?

Every country needs protection from invasion and has a military to deal with that. None of them spend anywhere near as much of their national budget on it as we do. If all our military had to do was protect us from invasion, they wouldn't be dropping so many of those million dollar smart bombs today. You seem to be desperately clutching at straws here.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096448)

While it's hard to say exactly how much goes into it, the US has protected the interests of business both overtly and covertly.

Iran was about oil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d'état [wikipedia.org]

Guatemala was about bananas (and communists). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Guatemalan_coup_d'état [wikipedia.org]

When Brazil was making overtures to Cuba, US reduced aid. A military coup eventually happened and the US immediately recognized the new government and loaned them money. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_–_United_States_relations#History [wikipedia.org]

US and Chile go back a long ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_intervention_in_Chile [wikipedia.org]

Dominican Republic was invaded to prevent it from becoming "a second Cuba." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1965_United_States_occupation_of_the_Dominican_Republic#US_invasion [wikipedia.org]

US supported 7 year long military coup in Greece ('67-'74). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_–_American_relations [wikipedia.org]

Venezuela had a short live coup back in 2002 which was immediately recognized by the US. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_coup_attempt_of_2002 [wikipedia.org]

I see communist prevent to also be a business issue. US companies couldn't very well start up their factories in those countries.

But the thing about renewables is that they are here already or could be if we actually tried. Protecting them is part and parcel with protecting the rest of America.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096478)

Except we don't just buy oil. We spend $TRILLIONS keeping the global oil production set up the way it is, enforced by our military. Then we buy it in the market we create with that military. So we do both. Meanwhile, our constant wars (and wars by proxy, eg. in Israel) keep the market prices high, though the cost to the producers themselves is low.

The cost of protecting renewable energy is very small. The military/intel budget would need to be only $150-200B annually for everything ($200B / everything), but tops $1T annually to enforce our global oil market system ($1T - $200B).

Where is the sense of proportion when coming up with these false equivalencies which are totally different scales on either size of the "equals" sign?

Sort of (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096274)

You can still get partial tax credit for alternate energy production systems, some places have similar for going to an electric car, and it is totally legal to make your own ethanol fuel (you do have to register though and use an additive to make your 'shine undrinkable), or you can make biodiesel, using waste products you scrounge up, or grow your own veggie oil source. So you have the freedom to subsidize yourself, given you just do it.

Re:No Surprises Here (2, Funny)

Hinhule (811436) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095022)

They are lobbying to use dwarfs as the next renewable energy source?

Re:No Surprises Here (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095030)

They are lobbying to use dwarfs as the next renewable energy source?

Yes. Yes they are. It's a small operation, but some find it entertaining.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096408)

The underground kingdom of the Dwarves have superior steam technology that would "dwarf" our primitive fossil fuel technology.

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096202)

No, the way I read the headline, fossil fuels are providing a subsidy provide renewable energy for dwarves. I didn't realize they were incompatible with existing renewable energy, but I suppose high winds at windfarms, or large waves at wavefarms, might sweep them away more easily than full-sized people...

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

piotru (124109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095120)

So I guess the opponents should spend more money on the lobbying, because so far their arguments do not convince me...

Re:No Surprises Here (1)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095270)

Iran's government owned oil company doesn't lobby their government. That's where 1/5th of the subsidies are from - essentially price breaks for the Iranian people from the Iranian government oil company.

Stupidity, in America? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094644)

News at 11.

Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094646)

My dwarves in Dwarf Fortress laugh at the Human races inability to use lava as a power source.

(fossil fuel subsidies) (dwarf support) for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094648)

What a difficult title to parse!

Get out Republicans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094662)

We Democrats got the power we need to make all the changes we want!

18 months later and we're promising a Utopia while the tax payers' hard earned wages are bleeding money into the corporate welfare coffers.

Re:Get out Republicans! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095078)

New admin is the same as the last; help the corps; Show no backbone to do what is in the nation's need.

Priorities (4, Insightful)

Voline (207517) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094664)

To help the now-wealthy to become yet more wealthy, or help all of humanity to avert climate disaster and live in a cleaner environment? Hmmmm decisions, decisions ...

Re:Priorities (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:Priorities (0, Offtopic)

piotru (124109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095076)

Right, the case of an african doctor donated a solar cell. Just enough energy to either keep refrigerator (storing vaccines) running, or switch on the energy-saving bulb to vaccinate people. Decisions, decisions...
For the same money many doctors could receive the combustion generators with fuel supplies and never worry for the wattage of their fridges.
This is what happens in the Real World when ideologists try bending the world to the phantoms of their imagination.

Re:Priorities (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095160)

You have a valid point, but your scenario is much more of a short-term problem. Millions of people can keep dying from preventable illnesses in developing countries, and that would still not be as bad as the supposed inevitable catastrophes of climate change.

Save millions of lives now with combustion generators, or save millions of lives plus every coastal city 100 years from now with more renewable energy plants and research?

Re:Priorities (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095328)

Yeah, well. Like... we're talking about two different countries here? By naming convention, two different worlds, even? Why are you even dragging this totally unrelated piece of spin into this? Isn't there a fallacy name for this? Or do you somehow think the money saved by GP's now-wealthy would find its way to the African doctor?

This is what happens when in any world people like you start buying into the shit PR people invent to spin profiteering at any price as beneficial to development nations.

Re:Priorities (1)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095692)

500 billion in petroleum subsidies would allow you to do both.

Re:Priorities (0, Troll)

tmosley (996283) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095446)

Right, because no one ever went from being poor to being wealthy. Ever.

What you really want, even if you don't realize it, is a return to serfdom. A few ultra wealthy insiders get to trade carbon credits and redirect the wealth of all nations into their own pockets and everyone else is impoverished and living in shit and filth when the sanitation systems stop working and you have used up all the world's capital on your stupid schemes. Ah to breath the "clean", shit-smelling air and drink water from a cholera infested well! At least the rich will still be living it up, since thier life expectancy will only drop by30 years as opposed to everyone else's who drops 40-50 years.

Nobody's gone the other way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095624)

Nobody's gone the other way. Paris Hilton, anyone? But just because dad got billions, she can make more money than she can spend.

Inheritance tax: 100%. If you want your children to have something better than you did, SPEND IT WHILE YOU'RE THERE.

If really necessary, allow the family home to be bought by the family with a tax break, but that's all, if they've already done well, they've already got a home.

Re:Priorities (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095542)

To help the now-wealthy to become yet more wealthy, or help all of humanity to avert climate disaster and live in a cleaner environment? Hmmmm decisions, decisions ...

Now here's the challenge. What policy actually would do what Voline wants?

Re:Priorities (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095864)

Leader of Senate: All fellow members of the Roman senate hear me. Shall we continue to build palace after palace for the rich? Or shall we aspire to a more noble purpose and build decent housing for the poor? How does the senate vote?
Entire Senate: FUCK THE POOR!
Leader: Good.

Re:Priorities (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095944)

Hey I'm all for "fuck the poor" as long as I get a say in who fucks me and the rich hot babe actually wants to :).

But until such policies get introduced, it looks like I'll remain a poor slashdot virgin :(.

One less counter-argument... (1)

FreeFuture (1327915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094686)

Wonder why I never thought of that! This should put to rest one of the main counter-arguments against renewables. 'But solar will never be competitive if there wasn't any subsidies...'

Now this makes me wonder how much I'd be paying for my gas without these hidden subsidies. Europe pays a lot more per gallon, between 2-3 times, and most every other country, except the producers, pays more.

Re:One less counter-argument... (2, Informative)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094728)

Here in ireland the refinery price for petrol is ~42c per litre. But with tax, transport, more tax and whatever the petrol station adds onto the price it costs 1.27e to 1.37e per litre.

There are 3 separate taxes on petrol - excise which is like a 'sin tax' is about 60c, VAT is just over 20c and a ~5c 'carbon tax'. Ethanol isn't subsidised but has a reduced excise tax.

So you probably wouldn't be paying all *that* much for it if you weren't being taxed to the hilt

Re:One less counter-argument... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094762)

Do you have tax-financed roads and highways? Tax-financed or government mandated parking garages in new buildings? Tax-financed ports and refineries?

There are so many areas where the government can interfere that it is very hard for the average journalist to get to the bottom of which way the government interference in the economy is leaning. You basically need a PhD in "government science" and a team of dedicated researchers to understand how the system works. For example, the Swedish government does not know how many government agencies it has, only that the number is between something like 500 and 600. The government created a new agency with a mission to investigate the matter...

Re:One less counter-argument... (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094918)

And the ironic part is that the Swedish government is world renowned for being a model of efficiency...

Re:One less counter-argument... (4, Insightful)

16384 (21672) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094802)

They'll always tax everything they can. Or, do you think that if a renewable energy starts getting a dominant position it won't be heavily taxed?

Re:One less counter-argument... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33096168)

They'll always tax everything they can.

Except, of course, religious institutions.

Re:One less counter-argument... (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094888)

yeah... if only we could live in societies that did not need governance.

Why!? (0, Redundant)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094688)

Why does that title make me think of Dwarf Fortress...?
Let's bug ToadyOne about fossil fuels. Ooooh yeaah.

Why do black public figures have so many problems (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094742)

with violating ethics laws? Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, Kwame Kilpatrick, Jesse Jackson Jr., Al Sharpton, Obama, etc. The list just goes on and on. Why do they bring their "ghetto ethics" to Washington? Rangel is an especially egregious example - what with his ashy-face rhaspy-voiced ass writing tax laws that he expected everyone except himself to follow. Fuck that bitch! I hope he drags down the entire Democrat party with him. So much for Nancy Pelosi's "most ethical Congress ever!"

Where is the study? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094778)

It would be interesting to see how the fossil fuel subsidy number was calculated. Even assuming the calculation is accurate, I'm not sure I buy the argument that renewable energy would be more economically viable than fossil fuels if not for government intervention. The article ignores taxes on fossil fuels, which I'm sure would dwarf any subsidies.

Re:Where is the study? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094812)

The article ignores taxes on fossil fuels,

Yes, and that fact alone makes it obvious that this "study" is a cry wolf con-job by green politicans who wants more votes, even if it takes lying.

Re:Where is the study? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094814)

The article says it is from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. You have to pay them money to get it.

Re:Where is the study? (0)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095046)

The article ignores taxes on fossil fuels, which I'm sure would dwarf any subsidies.

It appears the article shares this blind spot with many pushing the "green economy" both in and out of government.

Pushing adoption of non-fossil fuels & renewable energy tech before costs and efficiencies have reached a rough parity with our current methods & sources adds a crippling cost penalty to the economy and society in myriad ways from transportation and healthcare costs to food costs, interest rates, and tax revenues...pretty much touching everything to a greater or lesser degree.

When non-fossil fuels & renewable energy tech gets developed to the point that it's cost efficient enough to compete in our economy, business will invest and people will buy just as happened with the automobile and many others. This is what drove the US into an economic & trade superpower and gave it's people the world's highest standard of living. The push for non-fossil fuels and renewable energy tech dumps crippling extra costs on the economy (and ultimately on individuals) in many forms as the necessary trade-off for forcing adoption before it is actually economically viable.

It will require a reduction in everyone's standard of living in rough parallel with how much extra burden it puts on the economy which is related to how fast/how early the adoption occurs, and the health of the economy at the outset. Looking at current economic conditions, is this wise?

I'd love to zip around in an electric or hydrogen (oops, that got scrapped) car recharged from solar and/or wind generation, but the tech and the infrastructure just isn't "there" yet. I particularly don't want to finance them at such high relative costs on the backs of current and following generations' standard of living.

Strat

Re:Where is the study? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096306)

It will require a reduction in everyone's standard of living in rough parallel with how much extra burden it puts on the economy which is related to how fast/how early the adoption occurs, and the health of the economy at the outset. Looking at current economic conditions, is this wise?

If its cost is cheaper than building levees around New York, Miami, and all the other coastal cities that'll be underwater in a few decades, then yes, it's wise!

Re:Where is the study? (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095210)

Not even CLOSE to accurate.
How much money is paid for the right to DUMP pollution in the air in the burning? Nothing. We have a couple of 100 fires in old coal mines that the company that created the mine does not have to stop (too expensive). Both pollutions are HUGE. And how much is paid to offset it? Nothing by the power companies.

How much money is paid by Power companies for the right to send out mercury? The vast majority of mercury that is emitted by man is from power plants. In fact, out here in West USA, nearly all of the mercury in our waters come from power plant emission, or in a few areas, from old mining tailings.

The money that BP will pay for the gulf is but a fraction of the damage that it caused. Exxon paid very little of the clean-up in Alaska. And Nigeria has large amounts of environmental damage, all caused by oil companies that do not care about spills.

In addition the taxes that will be paid on the oil that will likely be sold elsewhere (such as Alaska oil) is a pittance compared to how much we are stealing from out children.

Finally, the thought that we burn oil is just amazing to me. Oil truely is one of the worlds wonder chemicals. It permeates our society in every aspect. Yet, we throw away the majority, and really do not pay but a fraction of the real costs of burning oil and coal. It is time to stop this for our national security.

Re:Where is the study? (4, Informative)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095220)

A quick search found this $557 billion is primarily from China, Venezuela, Egypt Iraq and Iran consumer subsidies. When the government owns the oil company the subsidy is not making the owner rich. It might help the less well off more than the better off through reduction of gas costs but study results seem mixed.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-07/ending-fossil-fuel-aid-will-cut-oil-demand-iea-says-update1-.html

The number $557 came from the IEA

http://www.iea.org/files/energy_subsidies.pdf

Re:Where is the study? (3, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095834)

The taxes on oil primarily are taxes on gasoline and diesel for consumer use - as farmers know, industrial use is not so much. The taxes on coal are a joke. I googled the words "taxes coal" and came up with this news story from Tennessee, 2008:

"The state coal tax is currently set at 20 cents per ton and has not been increased since 1984.

As introduced, the bill would have set the tax at 4.5 percent of gross value, which Jackson said is the same rate charged in neighboring Kentucky. Members of the Senate Tax Subcommittee suggested the levy was too high at an earlier meeting and presented an amendment Tuesday that calls for a two-step increase to 3 percent." ...while that $557B comes to about 14% of worldwide spending on oil & coal, based (roughly) on the Wikipedia articles.

I'm sure that on the whole, more is taken from than given to the fossil-fuel industries, but the subsidies, as another poster mentioned mostly in Asia, mean that world-wide, the "pressure" on the whole industry is much lighter than most would assume.

It's not that renewables are economically viable in any situation where the fossil-fuel industries don't have to pay for their externalities; it's a way of highlighting that far from bringing in those externalities in the form of a tax or fund or cap or any other restriction, we are taxing their use at all, very lightly.

The moment all the subsidies stop and something like $50/T (C) is imposed on digging or pumping carbon out of the ground (and $50/T is paid to those who put it in), the game is pretty much up for fossil, save where gas/kerosene/diesel are the only way to go for high-energy density (aviation, remote cabins).

Subsidies are not just there because of lobbying and power, though - subsidizing cheap energy is a great economic stimulus in general, which is why you find it in new, growing, developing economies especially. Which is the heart of the warming issue: if "saving the world" involves telling a couple of billion Asians to spend an extra generation in poverty, is it worth it?

Re:Where is the study? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095906)

The whole point is why is an industry that is so insanely profitable receiving subsidies in the first place? One day we will need alternative forms whether you care about the environment or not. I'm also including things like all the lovely oil spills. The fossil fuel companies don't need the support it's just free money to them. The money is better spent on the future of power and the name fossil fuels should tell you they aren't making anymore so one day we'll need something else. If you don't believe the alternative sources deserve it then can we agree the fossil fuel companies certainly don't? This is corporate welfare, period.

Re:Where is the study? Iraq, Afghanistan... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096058)

Add in the cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars and fossil fuel subsidies will dwarf anything.

Re:Where is the study? (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096072)

Mentioning taxes, wind turbines in the US currently get highly favorable depreciation rules, which I expect are not accounted for in the numbers in the article. Given just in Indiana I've seen several new, large wind farms (and they're still building), I expect the indirect subsidy with the depreciation is a considerable number. (If someone does the research on this, mod him up).

Article is very low on details (2, Interesting)

mano the shark (1641865) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094834)

The article gives almost no information about what the funding is used for other than: renewable good, fossil fuels bad. If you look at the current renewable power production in the US [doe.gov] it is 7% of the total and coincidentally the total funding worldwide for renewable energy is roughly 7.5%. While you can argue about giving more funding to renewable energy, they article gives zero information about what the money is used for. The funding could have been used for implementing cleaner technology on existing power plants (oddly enough they won't disappear overnight no matter how much you want them to). Just this year the EPA passed Boiler MACT II [epa.gov] which will require large capital costs to install additional environmental equipment.

If you want to make the largest impact possible to reduct emissions you can't neglect your current power grid.

Well.... Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094848)

Maybe the large amount of subsidies are somehow correlated to the fact that the vast majority of us actually use fossil fuels in our transportation systems now.

Yup; Needs to change (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094890)

That is the sad part. We say that we want one thing, while our subsidies are helping large corps with large lobbyists, while paying very little to what would help America. Compound that with 1/2 of the money of the AE world going to Ethanol. That was a payout to farmers by neo-cons in HOPES that they would get votes. Obama needs to show some backbone and change this.

My suggestion has been, and will remain, that Obama/Congress need to change these subsidies to not favor any one company or arena, but to take care of America's security needs. Otherwise, if not for security reasons, then I want ALL subsidies to be removed. From a security POV, then we should be addressing issues;
  1. Imports which ties us to large amount of cash outlays, in particular, to nations that are funding terrorism (iran and venezuela are but two).
  2. Emissions which we all know DO have an impact. For example, Mercury is poisoning the planet as well as America. The slag that is removed is piling up and not taken care of. And all that ignores the CO2 issue.
  3. Diversity of our energy matrix, so that not any one item can impact us.

As such, it should be that subsidies should be High initially and then dropped over time. It should address the above, without congress/pres. picking winners. The subsidies will drop for any arena that reaches 25% of total energy. i.e. once nuclear gets to say 25% of our total energy output, then all of these subsidies for it must stop.

  1. A subsidy for energy that is convertible to electricity and is emissions free and no import of fuel.
  2. A further subsidy of subsidy one that is base-load capable i.e. 24x7 available.
  3. A subsidy for energy storage, convertible to electricity. This is distinct from the second subsidy, in that this is storage only and is not be used in conjunction with it.

IFF we do the above, will we see changes in America. In particular, we will see Geo-thermal and Solar Thermal additions to Coal/Gas plants be added quickly. The 2'nd item would drop emissions and fossil fuel use up to 30% for West America, and overall up to 15% for America. All within 5-10 years. Geo-thermal would also become prevalent quickly. Keep in mind that the faster that it is put in, the higher the subsidy.
Finally, the energy storage makes it possible not just AE be better, but it also allows for large power companies to count on larger nuke systems. In addition, it would create a new breed of companies and investments; companies that store energy at night and sell it back during high loads. In addition, it would help move cars to ultra-caps and push ultra-cap R&D. Why is that? Because batteries are limited in number of charges (100's to UNDER 10K total charges). Ultra-caps are 100Ks to 10's of millions of charges. As such, you convert a car into a money maker for home owners.

Re:Yup; Needs to change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33094950)

That was a payout to farmers by neo-cons in HOPES that they would get votes. Obama needs to show some backbone and change this.

So since the Reps support it because they're greedy but Obama won't change it because he's soft?

Is it me or is anyone else sick of the leftist rhetoric? To me, when Obama doesn't do what someone expects of him they claim he's being strong armed by the right. This is bullshit. Obama doesn't support your programs because he supports what you want him to be against. Why is it that Obama gets a free pass when he doesn't stand up and do what you want? Why isn't he a greedy son-of-a-bitch and a shill in your eyes like every Republican is? He doesn't do anything different but his little PR army keeps cawing on about what a swell guy he is.

He's part of the fucking problem. He's of the same mindset and mold as what you supposedly oppose. Or are you too blind to see that?

Re:Yup; Needs to change (4, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095000)

Please show me where I am being supportive of Obama in this post.

Being against neo-cons, does not mean that I am in favor of Obama or lefties. I oppose the neo-cons for their total disaster that they created. However, if you even read this post or others, you will see that I am also calling Obama/dems to task for their in ability to change things. Or their UNWILLINGNESS to do the right thing. ANd I separate the neo-cons (reagan and W minions) against the republicans (lincoln, goldwater, truman, etc).

But hey, cowards like you, do not see that. YOU are the problem.

truman was a democrat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095568)

idiot

Re:truman was a democrat (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095578)

oops. Meant to say Eisenhower.

Relative (4, Insightful)

kamukwam (652361) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094936)

This might be true, but if you compare it to which fraction of our total energy production is renewable, then renewables get relatively more fuel subsidies than the fossil fuels.

Re:Relative (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095050)

Of course, when you compare to what Coal and Nukes got in their beginning, this is absolutely NOTHING. Both Coal and Nuke power got HUGE subsidies in their early days. Which is exactly why they remain at the top on these. Which is also, why I have suggested changes to our subsidies structures for years.

Re:Relative (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096230)

It depends. We've needed lots of new power plants in the past few decades, so subsides for high-output plants was important. Renewable power is only just starting to be a viable major power source- most government funding towards renewable should still be focused on research. Indiana has hundreds if not thousands of turbines erected or being erected, for example, so renewable power isn't being neglected (I don't know about elsewhere, I just see these turbines a lot). The problem is wind and solar are only good enough right now to take some of the burden off traditional plants. Without storage capacity to even out effective wind and solar generation, I don't see us shutting down many coal plants.

Any restructuring to subsidies should take into account whether renewable is a viable alternative- if you use subsidies to force people to build wind turbines when they needed a reliable coal plant (intended forcing or not), and they end up with problems because of it, people will quickly dislike wind power and turn against renewable power. I want to see the US replace its capacity with renewable plus the occasional nuclear plant (with breeder reactors of course), but only when we are ready for it.

Isn't anything bio+energy bad? (1)

rkaa (162066) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094958)

I mean.. coal is bio-energy. Oil is bio-energy. The remnants of bio-mass that never made it to the sky, but whose carbon dioxide instead was stored in the ground by nature herself, process commonly known as "natural sinks". How can it be healthier for the planet to burn off bio-mass before it even gets a chance to sink or be "filtered" through various other life forms? I would have thought the production of bio-mass in sum cause as bad outlets of CO2 as oil. Not to mention the harm it does to various species, humans included, when huge areas of diverse vegatation is sacrifized to grow a single type of "fuel base" plants.

Re:Isn't anything bio+energy bad? (5, Informative)

piotru (124109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095038)

Maybe off point, but with my wife we used to joke: if the color is green, it must be healthy.
Last year we went to a vineyard in France, where the owner explained he had not applied for the "Bio" label because he used modern selective fungicides, thus his soil is alive. The "Bio" use copper sulfide at such quantities as to completely eradicate the microbial life from their soils. I prefer not to think what they drink from their wells. As agricultural engineer I think this case of "Bio" is entirely harmful.

WORST HEADLINE EVER (1)

fartrader (323244) | more than 4 years ago | (#33094992)

" Fossil Fuel Subsidies Dwarf Support For Renewables" - never write me a requirements document.

CO2 is clean and subsidies keep food cheap (1)

piotru (124109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095002)

Unless you accept the situation in which the american farmers have to compete with the third world ones, at high extremity costs (true pollution by pesticides and eutrophication), the fuel subsidies do mean affordable food.
What is called "clean" energy is in reality more polluting by engaging complex technological processes, and at the end perhaps even more CO2 emissions.
And, at the end: It is the CO2 concentration that follows global warming, not the reverse. And yes, non-fossil energy will be needed, but it is not yet ready except the nuclear.

Re:CO2 is clean and subsidies keep food cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095064)

But even nuclear isn't ready to be perfectly honest.
The stupid amounts of money required to make even a crappy small reactor are way too high when considering all the regulatory crap you need to go through... even trusted companies!

Even solar is now beating it in price now.

Figures don't lie -- but liars figure (3, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095070)

If you're a greenie, you'll like this rah-rah study. Maybe you need some re-energization.

However, if you're not, maybe you'd like to know exactly _how_ true numbers have been distorted:

Dollar-wise, the biggest distortion is to consider road maintenence and building as a subsidy. This is slippery, since the substantial fuel taxes were justified and accepted by the voters on the basis they would pay for roads. Most places, the road funds are in surplus and contribute to general revenue, not draw from it.

Another large item in the US, but totally unaccounted is the oxygenated gasoline regulations. In many areas, the (obsolete and ineffective) legal requirement is for gasoline to contain 2% oxygen, earlier met with MTBE (which doesn't biodecompose fast enough) and now met with ethanol. In addition to the $1.50/gal direct subsidy, this legal requirement puts a demand floor under deathanol. How much is it worth? Who knows, but probably a large fraction of the direct subsidy.

Accounting for electricity is tough -- renewables use the same grid, and so anything is common. But renewables have poor reliability characteristics, so regs like equal buy/sell price actually are an uncounted subsidy. They certainly require more standby generation.

Give me an example (1)

kmansfield (892186) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095084)

While stating that fossil fuels get a bigger share of the subsidies the article fails to mention a single example. Why don't they give examples? My guess is that almost all of what they are calling subsidies are investment tax credit type subsidies that any business gets. Given that oil and gas are much larger industries, and have much higher capital expenditures, they get more money. What these people really want is to penalize fossil fuels and give subsidies to other forms of energy. Ethanol gets a 50 cent a gallon subsidy, which is huge, the government mandates that it be put into gasoline, and yet ethanol plants go broke. There is no cheap and reliable alternative to fossil fuels. If people want clean energy they better be prepared to pay dearly for it.

Re:Give me an example (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095222)

Even if TFA does not specify a single example. I think that is immaterial. The real issue is why my tax dollars are being used to subsidize the oil industry in the first place. It is not like that industry is fledgling, not been around for a while or actually really needs it; especially given their historical profit levels over the years. Even in your last statement you still miss the point. The billions used to subsidize the oil industry should not even be there... it should be in renewable energy.

Re:Give me an example (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095948)

Reread his post: 'tax credit subsidies that ANY business gets'.

For example there are tax subsidies you can get for building a 'green' office building. It might sound odd, but having piles of cash around, as well as offices all over the place the oil industry is in a prime position to build or remodel their offices to be green.

If subsidies like that are part of the study they shouldn't really be, as they apply to any business - Ford, IBM, Cisco, Pepsi, Sears, Walmart, JCPenny, the local toolshop, whatever. In addition to the oil companies. They also get subsidies for improving their environmental protections.

Such subsidies are dwarfed by the taxes they pay.

Meanwhile Germany leads in Solar - but that's because Germany has mandated that the electricity companies buy any solar power on the order of 70-80 cents per kwh. That's like 8x what I pay per kwh.

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095318)

I wonder which industry pays more in taxes.

Fun with statistics (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095342)

So according to Wikipedia, approximately 7.3% of electric power in the United States comes from renewable energy. According to this article, approximately 7.4% of the total subsidies were allocated to renewable energy.
Oh, and let's not forget that they are including bogus "subsidies" such as military costs in the equation.

Re:Fun with statistics (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095418)

Please show where military costs are considered part of the equation.
Because US military alone was budgeted 663 billion in 2010 (though spent something like .9T).

For those of you objecting to this report (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095366)

Here is a pretty little graphics for American subsidies. [rickmunoz.com]
Now, here is where you can get the study. [eli.org]

What this shows is just 6 years. It does not show the money that was originally put into many of these programs. For example, Nuke had LOADS of R&D done by the feds. Still does. And it still needs more (hopefully this time, the feds will not stop the IFR project that has been quietly started at UIUC; GD kerry for pushing it and CLinton for not having enough backbone to say no). And Coal had LOADS of fed and state assistance to get started. Free land; loads of pollution with zero clean up (see pix of eastern aChina to get an idea of what some parts of America was like in the 60's).

Even now, the subsidy that is being calculated in the above study has NOTHING about the air, water, and ground pollution that is allowed. If burning coal and oil had to pay for their pollution in all these areas, then they would quickly run to the top in terms of costs. WELL OVER Solar PV (which today is the current king of costs).

Numbers aren't scaled by energy production (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33095488)

But if fossil fuels are providing ~86% of global energy use [wikipedia.org] , it should be obvious that government subsidy of any type of energy production is inevitably going to be dominated by subsidies to fossil fuels. Do the math. 0.86/0.07 is ~12.3x as much energy being supplied from fossil fuels as renewables. In terms of money ($557 billion/$46 billion) it's about the same ratio (12.1). All this says is that governments are subsidizing energy production. Period. If anything, it suggests they're investing slightly more in renewables in terms of the resulting contribution to the overall energy mix, but that easily could be in the rounding error. The two are close. Also, I don't know if the report takes account of the substantial amount of revenue that most governments receive in the form of royalties for fossil fuel production from public lands. Are these net subsidies or just costs? I couldn't find the original report on the Bloomberg site.

The article's conclusion that it will take decades to bring renewables up to a significant chunk of fossil fuel energy production is correct, which is why there should be heavy investment now, so that as oil supplies start to dwindle in the next few decades we will have something to fall back on, other than burning the floorboards to heat our houses.

People have a poor understanding of just how challenging it will be to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels. We have alternatives, but the amount of fossil fuels we are using is HUGE. I did a simple calculation that tried to replace crude oil with vegetable oil (i.e. biofuels) by diverting *all* global production of vegetable oils to fuel supply (peanut oil, canola oil, everything). It came out to something like a measly 10% of global oil consumption for fuel. And obviously you can't divert all food production like that or increase production by several times without problems.

lol wut? (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#33095890)

Why do dwarves need renewable energy subsidies?

Re:lol wut? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096432)

Because they have relied too long on their current steam technology and have gutted their underground kingdom of its coal resources.

Are you including the cost of Iraq? (1)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096018)

If you include the cost of our presence in Iraq, the oil subsidy dwarfs imagination.

(And if you don't think our presence in Iraq is about oil, then I have a bridge to sell you that was highly subsidized by the city of London.)

Fossil fuel subsidies? Really? (0, Troll)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096132)

Last I heard, fossil fuels were heavily taxed. Governments are addicted to the revenue stream they produce. So powerful is this addiction, the concept of global warming was established to accelerate the money grab to astronomical proportions.

I am not saying there is no such thing as fossil fuel subsidy, but the article never mentioned any specifics. Any such calculations need to deduct fuel taxes, since taxation is the opposite of a subsidy.

total amount of subsidies irrelevant (1)

beefubermensch (575927) | more than 4 years ago | (#33096446)

Subsidy dollars per GWh are the relevant units. According to the EIA, and browsing through dsireusa.org, we find that "renewables" currently get the greatest subsidies by far.

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