Replied to Ignoring carbon, is energy use bad or fine? (Interconnected, a blog by Matt Webb)
Maybe energy use is actually fine, if the carbon footprint of energy production is zero, and we ignore the manufacturing footprint of the powered items? That’s how it seems but perhaps I’m missing an externality somewhere.

Given your starting point of it being solar, Matt, the energy is already reaching earth and mostly turned into heat upon arrival. At worst you postpone the transformation into heat by using it for other things first. So the energy usage would be fine I suppose (though the purpose might not be)

Another perspective is that until now energy efficiency in devices hasn’t reduced energy usage, but usually increased it. It lowers the threshold for energy use, making more things (financially) ok to use energy for. Where energy efficiency lowers the floor for energy use, energy abundance as you describe I think removes both the floor and the ceiling: there’s no financial reason to keep one’s energy use in check, no task too trivial, no task too big.

What I’ve always found odd in discussion with suppliers on whether to add solar panels to our roof was their insistence of dimensioning it just below our usage. That never made any sense to me. No sense, because of obvious things such as the likelihood of at some point driving an EV that needs charging. And no sense because of the scarcity mindset it suggests, whereas a household having an energy surplus means you can be more of a maker household, and can start thinking about contributing directly to your local area in new ways. It only makes sense from the perspective of feed-in tarriffs, and the needs of centralised electricity suppliers, the grids, and load balancing.

Other factors might come into play with true energy abundance, that mean not limits really but the need to take energy needs of neighbours into account, with local social feedback loops concerning distribution, peak usage, local grid’s physical limits, timing, and intermittency of use.

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