Wednesday, June 24, 2009

School of Red Herring

School of Red HerringOpponents of solar energy are fond of piscine arguments. Most particularly, they have a taste for those of the specious species clupea rubrum, the red herring. Floundering about in the school of red herring is the least nimble and toothless argument that solar energy requires subsidies to be economical.

The analyses described in Money from the Sun show that even without incentives, in sunny climes such as that enjoyed by Arizonans, supplemental solar electric energy realizes investment returns equivalent to comparable, low-risk traditional investments. This was the case in 2004 when the avoided cost of electricity from the utility grid was at an historical low in Arizona, and before much of the financial system was revealed to be illicit.

Rate Crimes has revealed the long-standing economic manipulations required to repress the value of solar energy and other energy conservation strategies in Arizona. Solar energy would require no subsidies in a market free of manipulations, and where enormous existing investments had not themselves been made possible by perhaps the greatest example of domestic public largess to a single industry in U.S. history: the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act. Further enormous subsides to the competing traditional fuel industries include tax allowances for depletion and depreciation.

The sun and the wind do not qualify for depletion allowances. If subsidies are required for solar, wind, other truly renewable energy sources, it is only because they must begin rising from the cold underwater far below where the red herring swim.


  1. Beautiful! Thanks for mentioning the Price-Anderson Act, the hold-harmless we get to pay for and without which no nuclear generating facility would be built.

  2. To show how cost effective solar is we would have to remove all the subsidies from coal , nuclear , natural gas and even hydro. If we then compare the true cost we would clearly see how great solar is. Then take into account the water use of the other fuels in a desert and the hazardous waste produced and you begin to see the true value of clean safe solar energy in all it's froms from shade and passice solar to active solar hot water and PV electric.

    You could not pick a better source of energy in the desert !