Skip to main content

60 Years of Energy Incentives – An Analysis of Federal Expenditures for Energy Development from 1950-2010

In 2008, NEI published a study based on an analysis by the Management Information Systems, Inc. that detailed the amount of subsidies that go to each energy source. The study has just been updated and now shows 60 years of energy incentives. Here’s the intro:

With concern about the price and availability of energy increasing, public interest in the role of federal incentives in shaping today’s energy marketplace and future energy options has risen sharply. That interest has met with frustration in some quarters and half-truths in others because of the difficulty in developing a complete picture of the incentives that influence today’s energy options.

The difficulty arises from the many forms of incentives, the variety of ways that they are funded, managed and monitored, and changes in the agencies responsible for administering them. It is no simple matter to identify incentives and track them through year-to-year changes in legislation and budgets over the 50-plus years that federal incentives have been a significant part of the modern energy marketplace.

The findings indicate that the largest beneficiaries of federal energy incentives have been oil and gas, receiving more than half of all incentives provided since 1950. The federal government’s primary support for nuclear energy development has been in the form of research and development (R&D) programs, one of the more visible types of incentives identified. In the past 10 years, federal spending on R&D for coal and renewables has exceeded expenditures for nuclear energy R&D.

Below are two key charts showing the latest numbers on pages 10 and 12:

image

image

And a little bit more on page 17:

The common perception that federal energy incentives have favored nuclear energy at the expense of renewables, such as wind and solar, is not supported by the findings of this study. The largest beneficiaries of federal energy incentives have been oil and gas, receiving more than half of all incentives provided since 1950.

The federal government’s primary incentive to nuclear energy has been in the form of R&D programs, one of the more visible types of incentives identified. Since the end of funding for the breeder reactor program in 1988, federal spending on nuclear energy research has been less than spending on coal research and since 1994 has also been less than spending on renewable energy research.

The analysis takes you back into some good history of U.S. energy policy since 1950. There is a telling story on renewables on page 52 and some interesting incentive figures for each nuclear technology (light-water reactors, heavy-water reactors, gas cooled, sodium cooled and others) on page 35. Make sure to take a gander at the full report.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?