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Bad Journalism on German Solar Subsidies Analysis – Why Media persistently gets it wrong

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I continue to be surprised by bad and shallow analysis of renewable energy subsidies done by media. Most of it is due to bad research and lack of investigative and unbiased journalism. Writers with little or no background in energy or cleantech sensationalize an issue taking a report from some biased thinktank. Here is one example from a website called ironically which you can read here

What the writer is saying that Germany is spending massive amounts of subsidies to get little amount of power. What he has missed

1) He is not comparing the subsidies for solar with that of fossil fuels. Does he know that Fossil Fuel Subsidies globally amount to $550 billion a year which is many times more than that given to Solar, Wind and others.Even a developed country like Norway gives 5 times more subsidies to fossil fuels than renewable energy

Norway has been hailed as the toughest cutter of Greenhouse Gas Emissions amongst the developed countries promising to cut Carbon Emissions by  30-40% by 2020 from the 1990 Levels.Compared to this USA has promised a measly  17% cut from 2005 levels and the EU  only 20% by 2020 from 1990 levels.Norway’s cost of cutting emissions is also quite huge $200 a tons of Carbon Dioxide.Norway has also promised to cut Carbon Emissions internally rather than buying cheap carbon credits from abroad using its massive sovereign fund.Note the Cap and Trade Kyoto Protocol has been criticized for being ineffectual in curbing Global Warming.However a NGO reveal today that Norway’s spending on Fossil Fuel Subsidies is $1.4 Billion annually which is 5 times more than on its Subsidy for Greener Forms of Energy.Note $550 Billion is spent worldwide on subsidizing Fossil Fuel Energy which is multiples of that spend on Renewable Energy.Norway is a major Oil Producer and its Huge Sovereign Fund of  $450 Billion has been built mainly through Oil Revenues.Therefore the massive subsidies on Oil is not surprising though incompatible with its commitment towards Climate Change.

2) He says that 18 billion euros is the cost of solar energy over 20 years . He conveniently forgets/ does not know the basic concept of time value of money.

3) He does not consider the costs on health,pollution,mining deaths and other social costs of fossil fuel electricity. He forgets to mention the BP Oil Spill and Fukushima Disaster.

4) He says it is cheaper to do energy efficiency than solar energy , a fact that is well know but will energy efficiency alone solve our global warming problems. Nobody doubts the fact that energy efficiency is cheaper but you need renewable energy as well

Mainstream media is woefully inadequate in presenting the problems that we are faced with particularly in a topic as complex as climate change. Taking a report and presenting it without a balanced opinion makes it worse.

Germans are happy paying 10-15% extra for electricity  Green and Clean Energy which would make a Better World. Most of the other developed countries like USA,Canada have shown only shocking apathy towards global warming . Which is better , it does not take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Germany has alone brought solar energy prices near grid parity due to its strong and pragmatic support to green energy  .Though the FIT policy is not perfect it is much better than policies implemented elsewhere.

Read more on Pros and Cons of Renewable Energy here


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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