What’s Left, Being Right: Investments in Green Energy

What's Left, Being Right: Investments in Green Energy

Sid Wadhera, Class of 2017 & Brian Challenger

Getting Ready for Tomorrow’s Energy Today

Side Wadhera, Class of 2017

One of the most unrecognized policies (at least for the past few years) of the Obama Administration has been its resounding support for green energy technology. A Brookings Institution report from 2012 suggested that the United States federal government would spend somewhere around $150 billion in green energy subsidies between 2009 and 2014. Now, chances are the only thing you remember about green energy subsidies is the Solyndra debacle back in 2011. Despite this one setback, green energy subsidies are paramount to the future energy security of the United States.

As of right now, the United States Energy Department puts our current use of green energy use at only 16.3 percent. The same study points out that almost 50 percent of the new utility-scale power generators in the first half of 2014 came from renewable sources. This is a sign that government subsidies are currently working on slowly transforming the U.S. into a leader of green energy.

Opponents to green energy subsidies point out that they are a waste of money. After all, North America has massive reserves of shale oil and natural gas – resources that can be used to fuel America’s future energy for years to come. Unfortunately, the United States cannot afford to rely solely upon those forms of energy. Even disregarding their carbon emissions, these energy sources will eventually run out. Thus, the continued investment – which is essentially what these subsidies are – in green and renewable energy sources is critical for the long-term stability of the U.S. Energy Market and the environment as a whole.

But if that alone is not enough to convince you that these energy subsidies are extremely important, then here’s one more scary fact: a 2011 MIT study found that China was the producer of over 63 percent of the world’s solar panels. That means that the United States is no longer in the lead when it comes to the green energy market, once again lagging behind China in this crucial field for the future. It’s no surprise that corporations like Solyndra file for bankruptcy when faced with tough competition from companies in China, who receive tremendous amounts of funding from their government. If the United States wants to be competitive in the solar energy market – and in other green energy markets as well, where China is investing tremendously – it is imperative that the federal government start supporting domestic green energy technology companies. That way, the U.S. can secure its energy future without being dependent on foreign nations for the technology.

Despite the clear imperative for the federal government to promote renewable green energy, there has been a serious lack of real effort on the part of Congress to fully support these technologies. It is clear and evident that such environmentally friendly technologies can help secure our energy needs in the future can help reduce our dependence on foreign companies and foreign technology. To that extent, President Obama’s policies towards green energy have been good so far, but it needs to go further. We need to invest more so that the United States can get ready for tomorrow’s energy today.

The Ways We Subsidize Green Energy

Brian Challenger, Class of 2017