What would happen if energy was free? – Gibbs Free Energy Charts Dept

In an age of climate change where the world is suffering extreme weather and drought, our use of energy is in the spotlight. With most people having access to electric devices and appliances, you might think it might be easier to go green. Not necessarily.

There are lots of benefits to buying and using less.

Many manufacturers offer discounts on their energy-efficient models to help shoppers make the switch. If the savings are significant, you are unlikely to get them right away, making it easier to stick with what you have.

But, while electric vehicles could play a role in the world’s energy transition, they wouldn’t make up the bulk of it. Other measures, such as solar and wind power, can make a huge difference.

A new report finds that all forms of renewable energy, from nuclear to biofuels, will be responsible for between 4% and 9% of total energy supply by 2050.

Solar power will generate the most: more than half (55%) of electricity demand is predicted to come from solar.

But that has only a tiny impact on global population: according to the report, about one third of the total reduction in demand is due to the decline of coal.

While all forms of renewable power are relatively cheap and can be manufactured at small businesses, the cost of solar panels has seen a surge in recent years, because of falling prices.

If consumers decide they don’t need or want any specific form of energy, that’s the end of it: they could stop using them.

Solar is currently the cheapest form of green energy, as it costs around 6c/kWh.

But that isn’t just a cost: if the price of solar falls, so could the demand for energy.

And that could lead to a lot of wasted energy.

To put the impact of this in context, there’s evidence that there could be a global shortfall of 3bn kWh of energy between now and 2035. The report estimates that if energy is free, that can be as high as a 6% cut in demand. If we do need energy, we will use it – but then we’d pay a price for it. We could be looking at around 10% of the world’s energy supply disappearing overnight.

Some renewable-fuelled schemes might help meet that shortfall. But the world will not switch just because we’ve got solar panels.

The world is a big place and electricity markets are very uneven

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