Free markets destroy high renewable energy costs

Prices of energy affect real income of every citizen greatly. Low energy costs mean lower prices to produce food, clothes, heat, and more, disproportionately benefiting lower income people. In finding a balance between cheap costs to promote human well-being and using renewable energy to help sustain our environment, markets have been able to slowly increase adoption of renewable sources while driving down prices.

Unlike fossil fuels, collecting renewable energy is not a matter of attaining a resource so much as using what is provided to you already. In this way, efficiency with renewable energy comes from the technology itself rather than acquiring more of it, and so the costs of collecting more energy does not increase dramatically. Market forces providing competition in renewable technology have meant development is continually being driven forward in order to get the best returns for the cost of the equipment. As Max Roser writes in a study from Our World in Data:

The advances that made this price reduction possible span the entire production process of solar modules: larger, more efficient factories are producing the modules; R&D efforts increase; technological advances increase the efficiency of the panels; engineering advances improve the production processes of the silicon ingots and wafers; the mining and processing of the raw materials increases in scale and becomes cheaper; operational experience accumulates; the modules are more durable and live longer; market competition ensures that profits are low; and capital costs for the production decline. It is a myriad of small improvements across a large collective process that drives this continuous price decline.

 With the continual push forward and cost decreases, real opportunities to build out renewable infrastructure present themselves to entrepreneurs willing to make the initial investment. Ideas such as retrofitting airport buildings with non-reflective solar panels, storing extra gathered solar and wind energy in batteries for off-seasons, and phasing out older industries with hydro-electricity become more feasible. Good ideas and free exchange will continue to drive forward this path to renewable energy all while keeping costs low to make sure the most vulnerable in society are still looked after.

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