Will we soon reach a point when electricity is free on sunny days?

30.04.2024|Christian Kreutz

This might sound far-fetched but could become a reality, at least in some places and at certain times, if energy providers adopt pricing incentives that reflect periods of high renewable output. The rapid deployment of solar energy is accelerating globally, which will also lead to potential overcapacity during sunny days and where the grid can't absorb all the electricity generated.

Despite alarming climate change news, it's encouraging to see solar energy increasingly contributing to the energy mix. In 2024, Spain achieved a significant milestone, with renewables accounting for two-thirds of its electricity generation. According to the IEA, "In 2028, renewable energy sources account for over 42% of global electricity generation."

However, this will not lead to surplus or renewable and free energy unless you have your own solar panels and storage. The grid is one challenge, and the other is the future demand for electricity. Electric heating, electric vehicles, air conditioning in a hotter world, cryptocurrency mining, and power-hungry artificial intelligence models will lead to an enormous increase in electricity demand. This underscores the importance of green IT and highlights that electricity abundance is localized and often temporal. Relying solely on current renewable energy solutions won't help to cover such future demands.

Soon, we may live in a world with brief moments of "abundance" of renewable energy, at least until people realize that relying on fossil fuels (e.g., for cars) is nonsensical. Let's hope that campaigns promoting free energy will expedite this change.

Global share of renewable electricity generation by technology, 2000-2028 - by by IEA