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Rightly or wrongly, my conceit is to think of myself as being intellectually curious. For all that, I find it is frighteningly easy to become comfortable with one’s own preconceptions and prejudices, and the sheer momentum of the status quo. In particular, it is hard to resist conventional wisdom because one appears as something of a misanthrope if one is constantly questioning what the vast majority of one’s peers accept as the truth. Nonetheless, I will confess to a certain intellectual buzz when I find conventional wisdom turned upside down by fresh information. It is in that spirit that I was fascinated to read in gizmag.com that, contrary to what is widely believed, governments subsidize fossil fuels far more than renewables and biofuels.
The following BNEF press release was issued July 30, 2010.
New research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance reveals that despite many platitudes and pledges, governments of the world are spending substantially more on subsidizing dirty forms of energy than on renewables and biofuels. In fact, support for cleaner sources is dwarfed by the help the oil, coal, and other fossil fuel sectors receive.
In all, governments of the world provided approximately $43-46bn to renewable energy and biofuels technologies, projects, and companies in 2009, BNEF concludes in preliminary analysis. This total includes the cost of feed-in-tariffs (FiTs), renewable energy credits or certificates (RECs), tax credits, cash grants, and other direct subsidies. (It does not include more upstream support, such as subsidies to corn farmers to grow feedstock for use in US ethanol plants, nor does not include any value transfer due to carbon cap-and-trade schemes.)
The $43-46bn figure stands in stark contrast to the $557bn spent on subsidizing fossil fuels in 2008, as estimated by the International Energy Agency last month.
Farewell for the moment. Write soon. I miss your wit and your company.