As Renewable Energy Spreads in Europe, U.S. Resists Growth

Thursday, June 21, 2012
(photo: Greenpeace)
Despite economic and financial problems of their own, European nations have continued to expand renewable energy sources. The United States, meanwhile, has not progressed in terms of what it gets from solar, wind and other non-fossil fuel sources.
According to statistics compiled by the European Union (EU), in 2010 the 27 EU countries obtained 12.4% of their energy from renewable sources, up from 9% four years earlier. The United States, on the other hand, only got only 2.7% in 2011, putting it slightly ahead of Mexico (2.6%).
Leading the pack in Europe were Norway (61.1% of renewable energy sources in total consumption), Sweden (47.9%), Latvia (32.6%), Finland (32.2%), Austria (30.1%) and Portugal (24.6%).
U.S. development of renewable appears to be held back by the power of the fossil fuel industries. Despite the fact that fossil fuels account for 84% of the U.S. energy supply (oil 35%, natural gas 25% and coal 22%), they still receive far more in subsidies (primarily in the form of tax breaks) from the U.S. government than do renewables.
Those subsidies that have been granted have been minor in comparison to federal subsidies in the early years of the nuclear and oil industries. According to a study conducted by Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey for DBL Investors, “In inflation-adjusted dollars, nuclear spending averaged $3.3 billion over the first 15 years of subsidy life, and O&G [oil and natural gas] subsidies averaged $1.8 billion, while renewables averaged less than $0.4 billion.”
-David Wallechinsky
Government Subsidies of Fossil Fuels Outdo Renewable Subsidies 6 to 1 (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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