Good News: Energy may soon be available for free
Forget about electricity bills! Thanks to new technologies, marginal costs for energy production are falling steadily, writes GDI researcher Stefan Breit. This ultimately means free energy.
This text is an excerpt from the GDI study "The new energy world - from scarcity to abundance". The complete study is available for free as a PDF download.
Ten downloads or ten million - it doesn't matter how many people download a song. Thanks to lower marginal costs from digitalisation and the Internet, an additional unit of an item no longer creates additional expense.
It was believed this business model could only work for digital products, not the production of physical goods. The invention of 3D printers taught us better, and it seems plausible to extend the zero-cost approach to other industries.
In the energy sector, this application is possible where the basic infrastructure already exists and where no fuel costs accrue. Energy production from oil, gas, coal, uranium or wood involve fuel costs; thus, marginal costs. But the sun does not bill earth for the energy it sends in the form of light, heat, wind and waves. Expenditure on the manufacture and maintenance of the plants that use and distribute this energy are plummeting. Once the fixed costs are paid off, the marginal costs of energy shrink. Ultimately, energy is available for nothing.
Free energy will have an enormous impact on society, particularly on countries where developmental efforts are limited by inadequate reserves. Energy would become ubiquitous in many parts of the world. In other places, electricity bills would vanish. The production and transport costs of goods would decrease, allowing us to reallocate the money currently spent on electricity.
Read more about the future of energy in the GDI study "A New World of Energy - From scarcity to abundance".