Energy abundance: the green endgame

A cornucopia
photo cred: Brad West

If you believe the majority of journalism on climate change, the apocalypse is unavoidable. And most plans require drastically reducing the quality of life for humanity. With such a pessimistic world-view it's no wonder there's so much resistance.

This narrative is unnecessarily gloomy. We are actually on track for incredible clean energy abundance.

The price collapse of energy

Something amazing has happened in the last decade. The cost of renewable power generation has plummeted to the point where they're cheaper than fossil fuel-based ones. (source) Even when you remove subsidies (from both fossil fuels and renewables), renewables are cheaper (source).

An organisation called RethinkX has have done simulations of various combinations of wind, solar, and batteries as the basis for a new power-grid. They found that the cheapest combination that is better than the current grid (fewer blackouts / brownouts) will give us access to 2-3X more electricity than we currently generate at peak times.  (source)

That's given no change in prices for manufacturing renewables.

Wright's Law has shown that the price of good rapidly decreases as the cumulative units manufactures doubles (Ark Invest has a good explanation and examples). Since renewables cost next-to-nothing to operate, what happens when the price of manufacturing these renewables approaches zero?

The price collapse of energy and energy abundance.

Electrified Consumption

That's on the generation side. On the consumption side, electrified energy consumption is far more efficient than those based on combustion. This is true of everything from electric cars to aluminum smelting. (the book Electrify contains a ton of great data and examples)

That means energy generation will get cheaper and our society will need to consume less energy to maintain the same standard of living.

What will society look like if this comes to fruition? Cheaper food, cheaper housing, cheaper furniture, cheaper transportation. Cheaper everything, and the poor will benefit the most.

A green future is one of abundance and prosperity

A green future is a future with less scarcity, lifting more of humanity out of poverty and away from conflicts over resources.

This is a much more compelling narrative to unify and mobilise humanity. It just happens to have the side effect of lessening global warming, cleaner air, and preserving Earth's natural beauty.