Energy subsidies have the potential to dominate the debate in the energy sector until at least 2020. This article aims to advance thinking and research in the area of energy subsidies from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. It covers the issues of: what energy subsidies are; what institutions are involved; what is the EU perspective on subsidies; and how they should be formulated as 2020 approaches. This short review on energy subsidies is in part based on the discussion and debate from an International Energy Law Conference held in February 2014 at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.