Even with billions upon billions in subsidies, solar and wind will still account for a mere 4% of the nation’s energy supply by 2040 — a quarter-century from now. That is the conclusion from the Energy Information Administration’s latest Annual Energy Outlook, released this week.
President Obama has made it his mission to push the country toward renewable “green” energy. He’s certainly put the taxpayers’ money where his mouth is.
The EIA — part of the Energy Department — reported last month that the federal government spent roughly $45 billion just from 2010 to 2013 on renewable energy subsidies, mostly for wind and solar. Obama’s budget calls for a 13% hike in current subsidy levels.
In a speech this year, Obama said this “investment” has paid off, claiming that “we’ve doubled the production of clean energy.”
What he didn’t say is that even with that doubling, solar and wind still account for less than 3% of the total energy supply, according to the new Outlook report.
Nor did Obama mention that, even with billions upon billions in subsidies, solar and wind will still account for a mere 4% of the nation’s energy supply by 2040 — a quarter-century from now.
And he certainly didn’t point out that this trajectory is little changed from what would have happened anyway, without his extra efforts. According to the EIA’s 2008 Outlook, the last one issued before Obama took office, renewable energy was on track to account for 2.8% of the energy total energy produced in America by 2030.
The EIA now thinks this share will be 3.5%. That’s an increase, to be sure, but one that’s barely noticeable in the grand scheme of the energy market. (See nearby charts.)
What has changed dramatically since Obama took office is the outlook for coal. In 2008, the EIA projected that coal would account for 33% of energy production in 2030. Now it figures coal will make up less than 22%.
But increased production of oil and gas — largely the result of fracking — will pick up coal’s slack, not renewables.
The EIA expects these fossil fuels to account for 53% of total energy production in 2030. That’s up sharply from its 2008 forecast, which had oil and gas accounting for just 37% of domestic energy production in 2030.
In short, then, Obama has spent tens of billions in renewable energy subsidies only to see oil and gas production rise faster than expected, while wind and solar’s ability to meet the nation’s energy needs has barely budged.