When thinking of renewable energy, one often conjures up images of impressive turbines and swaths of land covered in silicon panels and thoughts of technology, progress, and a cleaner, brighter future. Renewables are popularly accepted as the latest and greatest technological improvement in energy. This position, however, is inaccurate.

Use of renewable energy can be found from the onset of human history. Fossil fuels came around much later, with innovation in that sector allowing humans to flourish in ways the world has never seen. Contemporary renewable energy technology is hampered by the same flaws today that led it to be replaced by fossil fuels, and subsidies have not changed that situation.

As the latest TPPF research shows, “windmills, an early use of mechanical energy, predated the fossil fuel era by centuries” and suggests that “government intervention via tax credits, ratepayer subsidies, and mandates has turned back the energy clock.” Proponents of renewable energy would like to abandon the modern energy sources that have played a significant role in alleviating poverty and promoting prosperity. As an alternative, they suggest using taxpayer dollars to subsidize renewable energy—long abandoned for its inefficiency and expensiveness.

Unfortunately, heavily subsidizing renewable energy doesn’t promote more effective technology or reduced carbon emissions. Instead, states like Germany that have taken aggressive position by aiming for 100% renewable energy supply have sat on the sidelines as the United States has taken the lead in reducing carbon output due to innovations in sources like natural gas that compete on more of their own funds.