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As long as the energy wasted is clean energy, I guess it should be fine? The sun is shining on Earth at all times and most of the energy is wasted.



(a) it isn't clean energy, generally;

(b) setting up the infrastructure to produce clean energy is not purely clean itself.

Until you can account for every last gram of toxic solvent, mine tailings, electricity consumed during manufacture, and CO2 produced during transport from e.g. solar panels, it's not entirely clean. It's just better than the alternative. Not using the energy is always cleaner.


I read an article a few months back (no reference handy, unfortunately) that was talking about attitudes towards energy utilization in Quebec, Canada, where the vast majority of the electricity is generated from hydro. The basic conclusion was that when everyone knows that the energy they're using is "clean", they don't actually worry too much about it.

That idea really excites me! If our energy sources are both clean and abundant, that opens up a lot of doors to technology that previously had uncomfortable tradeoffs. For example, high-energy-consumption recycling instead of mining new raw materials; right now it can be a bit of a wash (sure, we're mining less, but we're burning coal to power the process), but post-scarce-clean-energy it becomes way less of concern. Likewise with a lot of automation tasks. Very exciting!


Constructing clean energy is not without greenhouse gas emissions, and the wastage of clean energy means that soemone else is required to use dirty energy. Now once we get to a world of 100% clean energy this won't be true, but AFAIK only a few countries have achieved this so far, and it only occurs when weather conditions are just right.


It would be fine if all energy used everywhere on the planet was green. Until then, wasting clean energy still creates more demand for that clean energy, which affects its price and thus its competitiveness vs other energy sources. Even in Quebec, for example, energy not used is sold outside the province.


Wasting a resource decreases its supply. With legitimate demand constant, the decrease in supply increases the price of the good. If the price is then in the fossil fuel range, you’ve increased the demand for fossil fuel.




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