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Clean Power solar vs bank bailout infographic

Published on September 26th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Bank Bailout vs. Chinese Solar Investments vs. US Solar Investments vs. Solyndra Investment (Graphs)

September 26th, 2012 by  

Here’s a totally awesome graph from the folks over at Solar Power Rocks (part of One Block Off the Grid):

solar vs bank bailout infographic

From the Solar Power Rocks post:

Since Dave and I founded SPR 5 years ago, something that comes up in conversation often is how much misinformation there is regarding solar power and how much the U.S. government spends on it. To put things in perspective, we compared the cost of the Iraq war to investment in different energy sources several years ago.

Now, after being annoyed enough that the House of Representatives are so brazen as to not just write, but pass a “No More Solyndras” bill, it was high time to provide some more much needed perspective.

There’s more on the post linked above.

That graph above actually made me think of a post one of our readers contributed last year on how much solar we could have deployed for what we spent on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Interestingly, Solar Power Rocks also made a graph on that way back in 2007 — linked in the quote above, and also reposted here:

More from the 2007 post that came from:

These figures are in millions. The source for energy R&D expenditures is from the National Council for Science and the Environment. Take a look here.Though the war in Iraq now costs about $120B a year, two authors (one a Nobel prize winner) estimates thetotal cost of this war exceeds 2 Trillion Dollars.

“Accrued liabilities for U.S. federal employees’ and veterans’ benefits now total $4.5 trillion. Indeed, our debt for veterans’ health and disability payments has risen by $228 billion in the past year alone…The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the interest payments on the money borrowed to finance the Iraq war will total $264 billion to $308 billion.”

That $2,000,000,000,000? Well, that amount of money could’ve built solar thermal plants here that would have provided energy for 2/3rds of our nation’s energy demand.

My guess is that number is a bit higher today. Meanwhile, solar is a lot cheaper, especially in countries that have made it a priority to get a lot installed.


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • JMin2020

    Thanks for putting things into perspective once again Zach. I had to scroll down quite a ways to find anything other than the Bank Bail Out figures. Maybe some politicos just have the wrong priorities when it comes to who and what needs some urgent address; and what constitutes a real economic problem.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I got a bit tired of scrolling after inserting images, writing, editing, sharing…. 😀

  • dynamo.joe

    I wish instead of loan guarantees the gov’t had given purchase orders. Then even in the worst case scenario, the gov’t is saying

    “well the company went under, but we got $500M in PV installed at gov’t facilities. Those installations are expected to pay for themselves in 7-10 yrs and produce an additional $1.5B before end of life.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      The government got the building, which can be sold.

      The government also got income and payroll taxes from the people employed. It got sales taxes and more income taxes from the businesses where the funds were spent and from the stores where employees spent their paychecks.
      A nice percentage of the money spent came right back in the form of taxes as that money sloshed around in the economy.

      The government also got some people off the unemployment rolls for a while which saved money.

      If you want to get all pissy about the losses, please do an accurate accounting….

    • the government has clearly made a profit off of these investments, but doing what you suggest might have won it more political points (harder to spin).

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