According to a new paper, “Challenges for Wind Energy’s Future,” although a negligible player in electricity generation, wind energy comes at an exorbitant taxpayer expense. In addition, the report finds that the wind industry faces several likely “insurmountable” challenges to becoming a dependable part of America’s energy portfolio.
Author Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., discusses in the paper that while wind itself may be free, the price to harness it as a source of renewable energy is not. Matthews reports that wind energy accounted for only 4 percent of total U.S. electricity generation in 2013, but cost taxpayers a what he calls a staggering $2 billion—a vastly disproportionate tax subsidy as compared to other energy producing industries.
Matthews says it was admitted even by investor Warren Buffett that the wind energy industry would not exist without tax breaks, and the market for it has only been sustained because of government mandates.
- In addition to its expense, writes Matthews, wind energy’s other key challenges include:
- It’s unreliable and may not be available during peak usage;
- It’s shown to be environmentally harmful, for example causing half a million annual bird deaths; and
- It’s losing favor as a priority with the public.
“The quest for an economy driven by a clean, abundant and affordable renewable energy remains an unfulfilled dream—though not for a lack of lobbying, a supportive media, and lots of government money,” writes Matthews. “Wind energy’s marginal success has come at a huge taxpayer and ratepayer cost. The public’s willingness to continue to pour billions of dollars into wind energy, through higher taxes or rates, appears to be coming to a close.”