Subsidies and External Costs in Electric Power Generation: A comparative review of estimates

By Lucy Kitson, Peter Wooders, Tom Moerenhout, Lucy Kitson on September 15, 2011

This review highlights the paucity of consistent information and data on subsidies to electricity generation. It also highlights the limitations of global estimates, concluding that robust national estimates are necessary to proceed with further evaluation of subsidies.

The extent to which governments subsidize electricity generation technologies is not generally clear. However, claims abound that each generation type—nuclear, fossil fuel and renewables—benefits to the detriment of others. While the literature on energy subsidies is considerable and growing, only a fraction of this literature focuses on subsidies to electricity generation, and only a small subset attempts to quantify the level of these subsidies. This paper reviews the information currently available for each fuel type, identifies the major gaps in the literature and makes a preliminary comparison of results.


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IISD, 2011