Spain’s PM Zapatero, photo by European Parliament (Flickr Creative Commons)

The government of Spain’s electric vehicle scheme has so far failed to take off.

Spain’s plans to fill its roads with electric cars, which can top up at service stations and converted phone booths across the country, have hit a bump in the road. So far only 16 electric cars have been sold in Spain this year. This is a 16-fold improvement over last year, but far short of the goal of 2,000 for this year and seems destined to fail to meet next year’s 20,000 or 2014’s 100,000 targets.

Yet the Spanish government-backed Wind Power and Electric Vehicles group (REVE) is still voicing optimism.

From an article in the Guardian:

The figures are similar to what happened in their day to personal computers or mobile phones. The first models are expensive and with few extras and sales are slow. But somewhere around 2012 dozens of electric vehicles with lithium batteries and at a lower price will reach the market – and the recharging infrastructure will be in place.

–Spain’s Wind Power and Electric Vehicles group

Amid high unemployment figures, economic austerity measures and allegations of corruption, Spain’s renewable energy sector is suffering from setbacks – despite some generous subsides.

From an Associated Press report:

In April, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced the government would invest euro 590 million ($775 million) in promoting and developing production of electric cars over the next two years.

Maybe the Spanish Wind Power and Electric Vehicles group has a point, though.

These kinds of numbers may cause worry that renewable energy can’t take hold without major government support – and may never in fact be able to replace fossil fuels. Yet according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, fossil fuel industries globally receive 10-12 times the subsidies of renewables such as wind, solar and biofuels:

One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support. This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.

Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance.

So how can renewables compete with still over subsidized fossil fuels? Well, some wind farms and Brazil’s sugar cane ethanol industry in fact do compete on their own merit, according to New Energy Finance CEO Michael Liebreich.

Read more on this topic in the following article from Energy Boom:

Counting the costs: Fossil fuel subsidies over 10 times those of renewables

Additional resources:

REVE