OECD's newest fossil fuel subsidy inventory is a big success on many fronts

I'll say right up front that I am not an unbiased observer of this particular effort by OECD to tabulate support measures to fossil fuels.  I've collaborated with Ron Steenblik, one of the project supervisors, for decades at this point; and with project manager Jehan Sauvage since his early days of deciding to enter the bizzarre-but-fascinating world of energy subsidies.  I also contributed directly to the 2013 version of the Inventory.

Chinese nuke plants: really cheaper or just more heavily subsidized?

In one of their recent blog posts, the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS) called attention to the apparently amazing efficiency of Chinese new build nuclear reactors.  Two new units are being built at a stated cost of roughly $2.5 billion each, significantly less expensive than what it would cost for similar projects in other countries (access the NIRS posting here).  Plant Vogtle in the US State of Georgia, for example, will cost well more than $8 billion for each of two planned new reactors.  Olk

Chinese Solar: On the power of zombies

Giving up on "zombie" solar manufacturing plants in China might not be the best solution in terms of dealing with climate change and energy poverty.  A Bloomberg review of overcapacity in the Chinese solar sector (Feifei Shen, "Chinese Zombies Emerging After Years of Solar Subsidies") contained some fairly staggering numbers.  Foremost was that if the existing solar plants in China operated at full capacity, they would produce 49 gigawatts of panels per year.  In cont

Subsidies to ethanol and nukes move forward due to Congressional spine malfunction

Spineless subsidies part 1:  Ethanol

Ethanol blenders credit moves forward towards extension at current rates in the Senate.  Even more ludicrous since even without the excise tax credit subsidy we are still forced to buy the stuff at above market prices under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard.

Chuck Grassley makes a good point when he argues that you can't treat ethanol and oil subsidies differently:

Measuring fossil fuel subsidies: learning from case studies of China, Germany, Indonesia, and the United States

Subsidy measurement is a pre-requisite to any effective program of subsidy reform, whether through the WTO, the G20, or domestic policy initiatives.  Too often, policy makers take accurate and comprehensive subsidy measurement as a given.  It isn't.  In fact, making subsidies difficult to measure can be part of a political strategy to slow or block reform.  It is no accident that subsidy mechanisms able to transfer value without easily-tracked government cash flows are popular -- purchase mandates, tax breaks and loan guarantees are examples. 

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