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Fossil fuel subsidies are 10 times those of renewables, figures show

Business Green, The Guardian
Despite repeated pledges to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and criticism from some quarters that government support for renewable energy technologies is too generous, global subsidies provided to renewable energy and biofuels are dwarfed by those enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry.

That is the conclusion of a major report released late last week by analyst Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which analyses subsidies and incentive schemes offered globally to developers of renewable energy and biofuel technologies and projects.

The report concludes that in 2009 governments provided subsidies worth between $43bn (£27bn) and $46bn to renewable energy and biofuel industries, including support provided through feed-in tariffs, renewable energy credits, tax credits, cash grants and other direct subsidies.

In contrast, estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA) released in June showed that $557bn was spent by governments during 2008 to subsidise the fossil fuel industry.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said the study revealed that investors reluctant to finance renewable energy industries because they believe them to be heavily subsidised were operating under a misapprehension…
(3 Aug 2010)

Scaling Up Solar: The Global Implications of a New Study that Says Solar Power Is Cost Competitive with Nuclear Power

Olivia Boyd, Worldchanging
Two US researchers have declared that solar electricity in their home state is now cheaper than next-generation nuclear power. Olivia Boyd looks at their study – and its global implications.

The sunshine of North Carolina, a state on America’s Atlantic seaboard, has long been a draw for tourists seeking a little southern warmth on the region’s beaches. But holiday companies are not the only ones trumpeting a good local deal. The price of the state’s solar-generated electricity has fallen so far that it is now cheaper than new nuclear power, according to a report published in July by researchers at the state’s Duke University. The authors say their figures indicate a “historic crossover” that significantly strengthens the case for investment in renewable energy – and weakens the arguments for large-scale, international nuclear development.

Solar power is usually branded as a clean but expensive energy source, incapable of competing on economic grounds with more established alternatives, such as nuclear. The outspoken pro-nuclear stance adopted by a raft of iconic environmental figures – James Lovelock, Stewart Brand, Patrick Moore – has helped to instill in policy making circles the sense that this is the only power source that can restructure our energy supply at the pace, scale and price required by the pressures of rapid climate change. This study, which was co-authored by former chair of Duke University’s economics department John Blackburn and commissioned by NC Warn, a clean-energy NGO with a firm anti-nuclear bent, challenges that view. “This report should end the argument for risking billions of public dollars on new nuclear projects,” says Jim Warren, NC Warn director.

The paper states that commercial-scale solar developers in North Carolina are already offering utilities electricity at 14 cents or less per kilowatt hour. Meanwhile, two power companies – Duke Energy and Progress Energy – are pushing ahead with plans for local nuclear plants that, at current estimates, would generate electricity at the higher rate of 14 to 18 cents per kilowatt-hour…
(4 Aug 2010)
The report is here.

Free solar panels and cheaper bill offered in exchange for use of roof by electricity firm

Staff, Daily Mail
Thousands of homeowners are being offered the chance to loan their roofs to a solar power firm in return for cheaper electricity bills

Householders who agree to having the panels installed free of charge will see their bills fall by up to two thirds.

But those who do opt for the scheme must agree to keep the expansive power cells on their roofs for 25 years and allow access for maintenance.

The move by firm Isis Solar means people who can’t afford the typical £10,000 cost of installing their own solar panels can go green without digging into their pockets.
It takes advantage of a Government scheme that pays renewable energy firms a set amount for every unit of electricity they generate.

Isis Solar, who are paid 41.3p per kilowatt-hour of electricity, could expect to earn £1,100 per roof each year.

In turn, homeowners, who must have a south-facing roof with at least 24 square metres of unshaded space to qualify, would receive a reduced bill for the energy they use…
(28 July 2010)

Unity College Gives Solar Panels From Carter White House to China

Scott Carlson, Chronicle of Higher Education
Those who still have high hopes for a renewable-energy economy in the United States will want to see a ceremony this week as an exercise of good will between nations—not a passing of the torch.

Unity College, in Maine, will give two solar panels to a Chinese solar-energy entrepreneur, to be placed in a museum in China. These aren’t just any old solar panels. They are part of an array of 32 panels that once produced hot water for the White House during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, but were taken down when Ronald Reagan took office.

Huang Ming, the founder and chairman of the Himin Solar Energy Group, one of the largest solar-energy companies in the world, will acquire the two panels on Thursday at Unity College. He plans to give them to the Solar Science and Technology Museum, in Dezhou, billed as China’s “Solar City.” The ceremony coincides with a new documentary by two Swiss filmmakers, called A Road Not Taken, that looks at the history of the White House solar panels and energy policy in the United States.

Mr. Ming—who started out as a petroleum geologist, but later entered the solar industry because of his concerns about oil depletion—found out about the panels from C. Julian Chen, an adjunct professor of applied physics and a senior research scientist at Columbia University, who is writing a book about solar energy. During his research into the solar business, Mr. Chen met Mr. Ming in China and told him about the solar panels on the White House and the establishment of the Department of Energy during the Carter administration…
(3 Aug 2010)