The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) at the request of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee evaluated federal subsidies received by the various energy industries for fiscal year 2011. The agency found that energy-related subsidies totaled $24 billion, of which $16 billion were spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency and $2.5 billion on fossil fuels in fiscal year 2011. In other words, renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency programs received 6.4 times more subsidies than fossil fuels received. The ethanol industry, which received over $6 billion, was the single largest renewable energy recipient and the wind industry was the second largest renewable energy recipient, according to CBO.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) evaluated federal subsidies for fiscal year 2010 using a broader definition and found that federal energy-related subsidies and financial interventions totaled $37.2 billion, of which $21.3 billion was for renewable energy and energy efficiency (57 percent) and $4.2 billion was for fossil fuels (11 percent). They were in agreement with the CBO on biofuels and wind being the largest renewable recipients of subsidies. But, EIA also found that the largest recipients of subsidies also produced the smallest amounts of energy for the nation. (IER’s write-up of the EIA study is here.)