Solar Power is Too Expensive

May 22, 2014

Solar energy is responsible for just a fraction of 1 percent of U.S. electricity, and it costs nearly twice as much to produce as natural gas, says Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Director of Economics21 at the Manhattan Institute. 

President Obama plans to propose new solar energy policies, but such policies do not make sense for the United States:

  • Solar power is expensive. Currently, 27 percent of electricity in the U.S. is generated from natural gas. If that 27 percent were generated from solar power instead, consumers' monthly electric bills would increase 25 percent.
  • The White House has announced that its Solar Instructor Training Network will support training programs at community colleges across the U.S. to "assist 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020." However, as of May 2013, only 4,130 people were employed as solar installers, with median annual wages of $39,600.
  • Approving Keystone XL, on the other hand, would create 20,000 direct jobs. 11 million Americans are employed directly or indirectly in the oil and gas sector.

The White House has also announced that a number of housing developers have pledged to install solar panels. But while natural gas energy can be produced for $66 per megawatt hour, solar PV2 costs $130 per hour. If the residents of these complexes are not paying for the costs of solar energy, then taxpayers will. Whoever is paying for it, Furchtgott-Roth notes, the additional cost means less money spent elsewhere in the economy.

Investing in expensive solar energy and training Americans for jobs that do not exist are not the right ways to stimulate the American economy, she writes. The U.S. is responsible for only 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and that number continues to fall.

Source: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "It Costs You a Fortune For Obama To Be Green," Real Clear Markets, May 20, 2014.

 

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