As reported in Reuters, researchers at the University of Tennessee’s Baker Center for Public Policy recently published a report indicating that the US government’s support for solar energy is absolutely no different than support for other energy sources, despite what fossil fuel companies would have you believe.
The reality of the subsidy situation is quite simple: Solar does NOT get preferential treatment.
As the University of Tennessee report indicates, solar energy has followed the same trajectory as other energy sources while also taking in the same amount of incentives as every other major energy source. In fact, older and more established sources like coal and oil continue to receive some form of subsidies from the government. Like the oil and gas industries before it, solar energy is still in its infancy with new innovations helping make it competitive.
The report further explains that the solar industry will likely go through a 30-year period of innovation and early adoption before it can make the jump to full market adaptation, something that every major energy source went through in the past.
According to Tom Kimbis, the Vice President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the government’s 30% investment tax credit for solar energy is vital “instrument” to helping this fledgling industry take flight. Kimbis further explained, “Solar is not different (from other energy sources) and is not an anomaly. Those long-term instruments are needed in order to get any energy source up to full maturity.”
Kimbis further cautioned this debate is in danger of getting far too politicized. “What’s missing has been a fair and balanced analysis of what incentives other energy sources receive…it seems solar is being called out because the failure of one company.”