Subsidies for Making Ice

Unsatisfied with the billions of dollars spent on wind and solar subsidies, the environmental movement now wants subsidies for products that store energy.

Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association, said:

“It would be a good economic investment for us as a government and as a nation to invest in advancing these [storage] technologies.”

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) that would allow “thermal energy storage and regenerative fuel cells” to qualify for the 30% investment tax credit that solar installations already receive.

Thermal storage includes making ice.

Ice is used to provide cooling to augment air-conditioning equipment. Simply make ice at night when electricity is cheap, then use the ice to cool the air in offices or homes during hot afternoons.

Proponents of subsidies for making ice say this would avoid using electricity during periods of high demand, and reduce CO2 emissions.

Diagram Courtesy of Ice Energy Corporation
Diagram Courtesy of Ice Energy Corporation

Many corporations would benefit from these subsidies: Trane, Ice Energy, Evapco, CALMAC, to name some. And ice storage is being promoted by the media, such as NPR, Treehugger. com, Greentech Media and New York Times.

The storage subsidy would also apply to batteries used to store electricity. Batteries that are installed in conjunction with a solar system, such as a PV rooftop solar system, already qualify for the 30% subsidy, but new laws would allow all batteries used for storing electricity, as part of an energy storage system on the grid, to qualify for the 30% subsidy.

The hubris of environmentalists is staggering.

Wind and solar generate expensive and unreliable electricity.

Wind and solar cannot generate electricity when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, so grid operators can’t rely on electricity being available when it’s needed.

For wind and solar to be usable 24/7, they must be augmented with storage.

For example, the new Crescent Dunes, Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant uses storage so that it might be able to provide expensive electricity 24/7. See, New Concentrating Solar Plant.

One supplier of battery storage claims battery storage should be credited twice: First for storing electricity, then again when the electricity is released.

AES Energy Storage President Chris Shelton said that a storage facility performs two functions:

“First it absorbs energy, and then it discharges energy.”

See, Storage Double Speak.

Hopefully, battery storage won’t qualify for a 60% subsidy: 30% for absorbing energy, and another 30% for discharging it.

It’s a simple matter to ridicule these ideas, but subsidies being paid for with taxpayer dollars are tragic. Subsidies absorb funds that should be used for building needed infrastructure, or worse, they increase the national debt.

But, don’t fossil fuels get larger subsidies?

All subsidies are probably bad, but this widely circulated myth distorts the truth. See, The Big Untruth.

In addition to the cost of subsidies, electricity generated by wind and solar is already expensive, two to four times more expensive than electricity generated by natural gas, and it will be even more expensive when the cost of storage is added.

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Nothing to Fear, Chapter 11, Role of Taxpayer Funded Subsidies, busts the myth that fossil fuels receive greater subsidies than renewables.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon:

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear
Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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3 Replies to “Subsidies for Making Ice”

  1. Dear Donn,

    At the moment I am in Nigeria working for the World Bank on upgrading some very decrepit irrigation dams.

    30% of Nigeria’s generation is provided by “emergency” Diesel generators at the hotel I am staying at seem to be on for about 1/3 of the time. Grid collapses are common. They flare more than enough gas to double existing gas-fired generation but some people are saying they should switch to renewable energy! How mad can you get??

    The cheapest energy storage you can get is utilising the storage capacity of electric water heaters. Studies in New Zealand demonstrate that the most economic use of solar voltaic cells is to connect the DC output directly into your water heater. You don’t have to buy inverters and all that junk and the water heater provides storage for nothing.

    I have “invented” a smart thermostat that would make all this sort of thing work really well. But absolutely no one is interested and, anyway the newly reformed electricity systems can’t cope with such a simple idea that would be hugely beneficial to consumers.

    I might have told you about this before, but if I haven’t, here are the papers.

    Kind regards,

    Bryan Leyland

    Phone +64 9 940 7047 Mobile +64 21 978 996


    • Great. Many thanks. I’ll review your website for the article on water heater storage. I believe we have discussed this before and that I have commented on it, but I’ll look at it again.
      As you know, people are giving out bad advice re natural gas because of their insane concerns over CO2 and methane causing climate change.
      Stay safe.

  2. Batteries burn up all kinds of resorces to produce and are seldom disposed of properly they have a footprint of their own If you dont get enough life out of them they are no better than anything else