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A new large-scale technology that is intended to undergird the future public infrastructure is fair game for taxpayer subsidies.

Solar still an emerging technology that was invented and improved on public money (R&D and military). It has improved marvelously (arguably near oil parity). But oil parity is not the measure of when to terminate public support. The measure for when to terminate public support is when it has solved its major technical challenges (say 80%?). By that metric solar still needs lots of public support. The public electrical grid is not setup to safely accommodate the massive numbers of distributed power sources that it will have (everyone's rooftops, everywhere). The grid still has no way to store solar daytime-generated energy for nighttime use, that needs massive and expensive new ideas and development - perfect for subsidies. Building codes and grid rules for safe installation and operation of distributed solar is still not known and is a costly adoption obstacle with plenty of conflicting incumbent agendas.

Oil needed legislative help in the early days because they needed access to vast regions in the midwest and offshore waters. It needed R&D help to find best practices on wastes management. But over the last 100 years the industry has largely solved its major technical challenges and can use its own financial resources for the small remaining further progress.

Nuclear energy needed public subsidies to reach its potential as well. It needed access to cooling water resources, safe waste disposal locations, materials and design knowledge for effective and safe practices. It has largely solved its toughest science & technical problems, reached 80% or so of its potential, and can reach its final improvements financed solely by its own ratepayers.

But how far can solar as the successor energy technology go? It can surely reach parity with current carbon sources. Can it exceed it to where it gets to one quarter the current price? One tenth the price? Can it be delivered to consumers anywhere at little to no cost? Can the dream of energy too cheap to meter actual happen? Copious energy would solve fresh water for everyone (ocean desalinization), give easy and fast transportation everywhere, food, housing. Solved energy would solve so many of humanities problems. Stop subsidizing solar when the major technical obstacles are solved and its ultimate potential is largely achieved, and not until then.

5 days, 15 hours ago on Now can we stop subsidising solar?


The subsidy arguments both for and against all sound persuasive to me. I suggest we go with what has worked in the past. We should stop all subsidies when the total amount of tax-payer funded support to solar equals the total amount of tax-payer subsidies the oil, coal, and nuclear industries have received. After all, why mess up what has worked so well in the past?

6 days, 18 hours ago on Now can we stop subsidising solar?