Even though renewables get federal subsidies for research and development, they’re still at a disadvantage when competing with fossil fuels, because fossil fuels receive even more subsidies. We basically all knew that already, but few of us realized it was quite this bad. Turns out fossil fuels get 250 different kinds of subsidies, and they’re getting more all the time.

According to research by GigaOm's Adam Lesser, buried in a 351 page report from the International Energy Agency is the fact that fossil fuels currently receive subsidies via "at least 250 mechanisms." And unlike federal subsidies for renewables, which are constantly haggled over in spending bills, a lot of these are sneaky. They include everything from direct subsidies to tax loopholes and government spending on infrastructure on which fossil fuel industries depend.

Worse, these subsidies are actually growing from year to year.

So the next time someone tells you that renewables need to "stand on their own," ask them how that’s possible if a centuries-old super-rich industry can’t manage it.

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