Sun Sets on Solar

Europe nixes subsidies


Even as President Barack Obama doggedly continues touting solar power, European governments are slashing their subsidies to the industry. Spain ended all subsidies to new renewable energy projects in February. Both Britain and Italy plan to curtail solar subsidies by 50 percent. And in April, Germany implemented a 29 percent reduction, with a complete phase-out planned by 2015. 

Why is Europe giving up on energy from the sun? Because escalating solar subsidies are "a threat to the economy," asserted Philipp Rosler, Germany's minister of economics and technology. Since 2003 Germany has lavished $130 billion on an energy generation technology that produces just 3 percent of the country's electricity, boosting consumer electricity bills by $14 per month. Keep in mind that German consumers already pay 36 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to an average of about 10 cents in the U.S.

Subsidizing green energy also turns out to be a job killer. In 2010 researchers at King Juan Carlos University calculated that nearly nine jobs are destroyed in the rest of the economy for every one created by solar subsidies. Similarly, researchers at the Bruno Leoni Institute, an Italian think tank, found that each green job cost five in the rest of the economy. A 2009 report from the Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research, a German think tank, concluded that green energy subsidies were "resulting in massive expenditures that show little long-term promise for stimulating the economy, protecting the environment, or increasing energy security."