Many countries subsidize various alternative forms of energy, such as wind, solar, biofuels, and electric batteries, because of the substantial pollution from using coal, oil, and other fossil fuels. Often, however, the choices of what to heavily subsidize are made on political rather than economic criteria. For example, for years hydrogen cars were politically the most promising substitute for gasoline driven cars; then hydrogen fell out of favor and electric cars became the political darlings. Since governments have seldom succeeded in picking technological winners, I suspect they will be wrong again in these attempts to steer the development of cost-effective alternatives to the internal combustion gasoline engine. Another example is the scandal about the heavy American government financial support to the solar panel company Solyndra that recently failed.
Judge Posner's point on politics versus economics in "picking technological winners" is a good one.