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CEO of solar company says Government subsidies is killing renewable energy

Paul Nahi — Forbes.com — February 14, 2013

Paul Nahi is CEO of Enphase Energy, a provider of micro-inverter systems for the solar industry.

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear or engage in a conversation about energy. Too often, those conversations are about failed companies that lived only for government largesse. Whether the discussion is about the cost of energy, the damage being done to the environment, or national security issues, there is one constant: everyone agrees that the world needs safe, clean, and affordable energy.

As the chief executive of a solar technology company, no one wants an abundant supply of clean energy and a healthy solar energy industry more than I do. And the best pathway to a stable renewable energy industry is to create self-sufficiency and independence from government financial assistance.

One might question the rationality of this position, given the fact that between 1994 and 2009 the U.S. oil and gas industries received a cumulative $446.96 billion in subsidies, compared to just $5.93 billion given to renewables in those years. (The nuclear industry, by the way.  received $185 billion in federal subsidies between 1947 and 1999.) Certainly, subsidies are a useful tool to help establish an emerging industry. But where there is no projected end to funding, subsidies stop being a catalyst, and start becoming a crutch. This is especially true when companies supported by subsidies become powerful enough to influence governments to perpetuate their support.

Healthy companies depend upon sound business models in a competitive environment. Lousy companies that are limping along on subsidies will slow the growth of the industry.

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One Comment on “CEO of solar company says Government subsidies is killing renewable energy”

  1. Admin February 17, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    If I read the article correctly, the killing subsidies are not those going to so-called Green Energy, but the billions that historically have gone to oil & gas. Yes, oil & gas have been heavily subsidized through tax cuts, tax credits and cash. But the writer’s argument is one built of straw men, and despite what he writes, solar is NOT less expensive that fossil-fuelled energy production; yes, less expensive in total subsidies but not in total cost of construction, production and maintenance. At 14% efficiency solar lags far behind other power generation methods [p.50, Green Illusions.

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