Can electricity be free? Literally free, as in having no cost to anyone? It’s a dream –
Let’s start off by recognizing that electric power can be, if not free,
then certainly a lot cheaper than it is. The profit motive adds to the cost of electricity charged to the consumer, and suppresses innovations that might enable individuals and households to more easily produce energy for their own use.
However, there is a difference between saying that electricity is more expensive than it has to be (an obvious and incontrovertible truth), and saying that it is possible for it to be free.
Nikola Tesla was a brilliant scientist and inventor of the late 19th and early 20th century. A contemporary, colleague, and eventually rival of Thomas Edison, Tesla played an important role in the invention of both alternating current and radio. One can find online claims that Tesla invented a form of free, inexhaustible energy,
related in some way to his discoveries regarding wireless transmission of energy.
There is no doubt that Tesla worked on and achieved success at the wireless transmission of energy. In fact, without wireless energy transmission, radio would be impossible. (For that matter, so would sunlight.) However, wireless energy transmission is less efficient than transmission by conduction through wire, especially when it is implemented in broadcast form (as opposed to laser transmission, of which Tesla had no knowledge). As for production of energy in the first place, as opposed to its transmission, we have no evidence from Tesla’s writing that he ever discovered any significant new methods of generating electricity at all.
One of the common ideas floating about is for the generation of electricity through magnets. This is quite possible, but only when the magnets are in motion imparted by some non-
For electricity to be free, it must be possible for it to be produced without the expenditure of any effort whatsoever: no fuel, no construction cost, no maintenance cost. There are a number of types of electricity generation that require no fuel. These include solar power, wind power, and hydroelectric power, among others. More accurately, the fuel for all of these is the fusion of hydrogen in the core of the sun. However, all of them do require construction and maintenance efforts, and therefore they are not free.
It is often asserted that information on free energy has been suppressed by powerful interests (the electric utilities, the oil industry, the government). However, for this argument to carry much weight, it must be possible for anything to exist to be suppressed, and when it comes to free energy, that is not the case. This isn’t to say that things which could reduce the cost of electricity have not been suppressed, but simply that the impossible requires no suppression.
Cheaper, Sustainable Electricity
In fact, it’s reasonably safe to say that the idea of free energy represents a diversion of effort away from something that is not only possible but achievable and greatly desirable: cheaper energy that is environmentally sustainable. Such energy would not be free, but it would represent a vast improvement in our lives and in our relationship with nature.