Let the Free Market Promote Renewable Energy

Renewable energy, without a doubt, is a huge part of the future of environmentalism in the United States. It is imperative that we continue supporting the growth of industries like solar, wind, and hydropower to create a cleaner and greener future. That said, these industries still must also carry their weight in the free market and cannot be sustained by huge tax breaks from state and federal governments.

In Texas, the Sage Draw Wind farm is receiving more than $22 million in tax breaks over 10 years. Of course, renewable energy forms should be encouraged, but the government should not have to give them special treatment. These industries should not receive special treatment in order to ensure that the free market can do its job.  Renewables should ultimately be supported not only because they are clean, but because they are effective.

The Texas Public Policy Institute reported that in Texas, wind power generators may not be the most efficient choice; yet, this wind farm is still able to receive huge tax incentives at the indirect expense of the Texan taxpayer. Wind energy has to be harnessed in rural areas and then transported to more populous areas that need the energy, which incurs an additional cost. Wind power generators also do not function as well in heavy heat, which Texas obviously experiences significantly.

Of course, it is not criminal for the government to initially help renewable energy industries get off the ground because they are competing against established fossil fuels, but ultimately, the free market should have the last say. If the Sage Draw Wind farm proves that it can compete with others in the energy industry, then it should survive. If it cannot, the government should not save it with tax incentives. Texans should not have to pay for an industry that is not pulling its weight, and with a free market, another renewable energy source can prove its worth to replace one that cannot. For instance, solar is becoming a popular form of energy collection all over Texas. This argument also applies to fossil fuels industries: coal and oil should not be bailed out when there are other viable options waiting to take the lead.

Moreover, the free market really does not need any help when it comes to embracing renewable energy, as renewables are quickly becoming competitors in the field; in 2017, renewable energy forms experienced the most growth out of any energy forms worldwide. Late last year, three wind-power companies bid a combined $405.1 million to secure the rights to construct offshore wind farms. States then pledged to buy energy from these farms. This amount absolutely shattered the previous 2016 record for offshore wind power bids, which totaled around $42 million. When given a practical chance, the free market will promote the production of renewable energy.

Fossil fuels have dominated the energy sector for years, so renewable energy is admittedly still at a bit of a disadvantage. That said, we must be careful with throwing government money — or even worse, that of the taxpayer — at industries that have not quite proven themselves in the free market yet. Each type of renewable energy requires a certain environment to be more effective; using the government, instead of the free market, to pick winners and losers would not be using resources to their fullest potential. Wind, solar, hydropower, and nuclear energy all have the ability to earn their places in the energy industry.

Karly Matthews