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Published on February 8th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Fox News Fails BIG TIME On Solar Subsidies

February 8th, 2013 by  

So, I just published a long article on the most hilarious statement from a new Fox News segment on solar power — the idea that Germany has “lots more” sun than the US.

I also tackled another key topic from the segment in that article — the reasons why solar power is so much cheaper in Germany than in the US.

And I’ve also published a piece on “10 Huge Lessons We’ve Learned From Solar Power Success In Germany.”

But one of the other key claims about US solar power that Fox & Friends spewed out of their completely confused or completely ignoble mouths was the absurd claim that US subsidies for solar haven’t had any effect and that solar compares unfavorably with fossil fuels on the matter of subsidies. Completely insane.

Luckily, I just wrote a couple posts on US coal, oil, and gas subsidies, which make solar subsidies look like pennies in comparison. For more details on those, check out:

One key finding from my research on those subsidies was this one: renewable energy subsidies have correlated with a great deal of power capacity growth.

This is really no surprise: solar costs have been falling rapidly in correlation with subsidies, and solar power growth has been tremendous — solar is the fastest-growing US energy industry (and probably the fastest growing energy industry in the world). The US solar industry now has over 100,000 jobs. Many of those are a direct result of the subsidies the US has offered American citizens.

As noted in my previous post, subsidies that stimulate the market — stimulate market demand (as solar subsidies have) — help the market to mature, and thus bring down numerous soft costs related to solar power. Germany’s stronger solar subsidies have made this happen much faster, which is why solar power is much cheaper and more abundant there, but US policies have had the same effect (just to a lesser extent). Soft costs are still much higher in the US than Germany, but those will come down as our market continues to mature.

On the solar supply side, regarding the absurd comments about solar companies that have received government loan guarantees and later gone out of business (and that being a reason to give up on one of the biggest industries of the coming century!), we’ve covered before the simple fact that a tiny percentage of those companies have gone bankrupt. Additionally, we’ve noted the obvious before: if you invest in high-risk, high-reward companies, you’re going to have some failures. To expect 100% of the companies to succeed is illogical. This is a role the US government has filled many times for many industries (including the oil and gas industry) with great success. And, again, the government is seeing great success while doing this for solar. The solar industry is young and maturing. Just as with pretty much every industry that reaches this stage, hundreds of manufacturing companies will narrow down to just a handful. But that handful will be extremely successful — and it’s common sense to want them based in your country, and to do what you can to make that happen.

Additionally, as far as jobs go, studies have found that $1 million of subsidies for solar creates more jobs than $1 million of subsidies for natural gas or coal. A University of Massachusetts study on the matter found that, for every dollar invested, almost three times as many solar jobs are created as natural gas jobs, and twice as many solar jobs are created as coal jobs:

The bottom line is: solar is better for jobs and the economy, solar is better for our health, and solar is better for the climate.

But, you know, it’s Fox, science and facts don’t really matter


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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species). He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, 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.

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