A report issued by the Cato Institute, a public policy research foundation, says that government subsidies for renewable energy sources are unwarranted. In the report called “Evaluating the Case for Renewable Energy: Is Government Support Warranted?,” the authors draw the conclusion that despite polls offering strong public support for government-funded renewable energy, very few consumers will opt for it due to its high cost.

The report states that renewable energy is not likely to gain significant market share in the foreseeable future without a significant increase in government subsidies or mandates. The authors say the rationales for subsidies for renewable energy and other preferences are without sound economic foundation. The report also claims that the environmental benefits of renewable energy could be achieved more cheaply using other technologies.

The report, however, does acknowledge that government subsidies for commercial fossil fuel technologies — coal, natural gas, and oil — are nearly double those for renewable energy. Also, nuclear power and fossil fuels are receiving more research and development funds.

Publication date: 04/15/2002