Twelve times more funds have been given to fossil fuels in 2009

Clean energies, yet a small creek

In 2009 Governments have issued renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power and biofuels, only a small fraction of the subsidies globally recognized to fossil fuels Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. A small river, indeed, when compared to the much larger amount of public funds which support fossil fuels.

Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency last month said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008.

According to Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance “mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” and that is one of the reasons why the clean tech field is actually starving, short of the funds it needs to develop itself.

Countries from the U.S. and Germany to Brazil and China are trying to boost power derived from crops, the wind and the sun in order to lower emissions of greenhouse gases while increasing the security of energy supplies. The Group of 20 nations a month ago renewed a commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies: timing was left extremely vague, though, as no target date was set and the commitment only said “over the medium term.”

The single most expensive clean energy subsidy last year was Germany’s feed-in tariff, which cost ratepayers $9.6 billion, New Energy Finance said. Across Europe, such tariffs amounted to $19.5 billion.

The U.S. in 2009 provided the most clean energy subsidies, at $18.2 billion, according to New Energy Finance. China provided about $2 billion of support, a “deceptive” figure because the country’s state-owned banks also provide “much crucial support” through low-interest loans, the group said.

So far this year, the state-controlled China Development Bank has extended $24 billion in loans to Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., Trina Solar Ltd., Suntech Power Holdings Co., Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. and Solarfun Power Holdings Co.

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