In a paper published this week, the Breakthrough Institute notes that the end of Stimulus spending and intransigence toward any further tax support of renewable energy in the House of Representatives are about to create a huge bust in clean energy. The chart shows the estimated levels of federal spending since the passage of the American Relief and Recover Act in 2009. We are already well into the downward progression, with spending having declined by more than half, and the trend will continue. Moreover, Breakthrough notes that the vast majority of this spending ($108.7 billion) has been on the marketing and deployment of clean technologies rather than on manufacturing ($12.4 billion) or research and development ($28.1 billion).
The pie chart shows where this money has gone. Almost half ($48.4 billion) went to producing renewable electricity (the blue segment), which means wind and solar. The category “multiple” (red) refers to broad research spending across categories, mostly through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E, $24.9 billion). Biofuels (black) has gotten 16.1 percent ($24.2 billion), mainly through the excise tax credit for ethanol fuels, which has now been discontinued. The remaining categories are: energy efficiency (gray, 10.0 percent, $15.0 billion); electric vehicles and advanced batteries (medium blue, 7.6 percent, $11.4 billion); high-speed rail ((medium red, 6.6 percent, 10.0 billion); grid transportation electrification (dark gray, 4.4 percent, $6.6 billion); nuclear (light gray, 4.2 percent, $6.3 billion); and advanced fossil fuels, which means carbon capture and storage (light blue, 2.6 percent, $3.9 billion).Breakthrough is somewhat unconventional in accepting nuclear energy as a clean technology.
The Institute is more or less resigned to the idea that spending on clean tech is not going to revive to recent levels. In fact, government subsidies are about to fall off a cliff. It recommends that spending be steered away from the marketing and deployment and concentrated on research and development in order to put the entire industry on a more permanent and sustainable basis.