Does it matter that neither would be around if it weren't for massive government subsidies?
Even with subsidies, they amount to virtually nothing.
From "The Energy Subsidy Tally" in today's Wall Street Journal:
The folks at the Institute for Energy Research used the Energy Department data to calculate a subsidy per unit of electricity produced. Per megawatt hour, natural gas, oil and coal received 64 cents, hydropower 82 cents, nuclear $3.14, wind $56.29 and solar a whopping $775.64.In order to make solar or wind viable, we'd need to invest all the money in the world. Here in the most indebted nation on the planet. Money that disappeared long ago.
So for every tax dollar that goes to coal, oil and natural gas, wind gets $88 and solar $1,212. After all the hype and dollars, in 2010 wind and solar combined for 2.3% of electric generation—2.3% for wind and 0% and a rounding error for solar. Renewables contributed 10.3% overall, though 6.2% is hydro. Some "investment."
Zooming out for all energy, the Congressional Research Service did its own analysis of tax incentives last year. It found that in 2009 fossil fuels accounted for 78% of U.S. energy production but received only 12.6% of tax incentives. Renewables accounted for 11% of energy production but received 77% of the tax subsidies—and that understates the figure because it leaves out direct spending.
It was a nice dream.
But, like all dreams, sooner or later one has to wake up and put it in its place.