The government aid renewable energy developers once relied on is fading away
For years, wind and solar power were derided as boondoggles. They were too expensive, the argument went, to build without government handouts.
Today, renewable energy is so cheap that the handouts they once needed are disappearing.
On sun-drenched fields across Spain and Italy, developers are building solar farms without subsidies or tax-breaks, betting they can profit without them. In China, the government plans to stop financially supporting new wind farms. And in the U.S., developers are signing shorter sales contracts, opting to depend on competitive markets for revenue once the agreements expire.
The developments have profound implications for the push to phase out fossil fuels and slow the onset of climate change. Electricity generation and heating account for 25% of global greenhouse gases. As wind and solar demonstrate they can compete on their own against coal- and natural gas-fired plants, the economic and political arguments in favor of carbon-free power become harder and harder to refute.