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Zero Point Energy and how it would not solve our problems

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Assigned keywords: Foreign Language, Weltsicht

Yesterday I read some cra interesting articles about Zero Point Energy, which is supposed to solve mankind's energy problems. Of course, this noble endeavour is hindered by evil multinational corporations, who'd rather keep selling their nuclear power and therefore silence all those who deal with Zero Point Energy.

Let's assume for a moment that Zero Point Energy - or whatever concept people come up with to gain "free" energy - works. We're talking about some kind of machine that gains energy from "nowhere", ie. the vacuum between the atoms or the quantum fluctuations of gravitons and their polaron singularities. Would that solve the energy problems of mankind?

No, it would not.

There are two problems which are neglected by the followers of free energy. First, there is already free energy - every energy source that man makes use of is essentially free. The oil is free, the uranium is and even more, the sun's rays are for free. Assembling a photovoltaic array to gain electric energy from sunlight is essentially the use of free energy. Tapping an oil field is free to, as the oil is free for us to mine. So why do I have to pay my utilities to deliver me power? Well, machines have to be built, oil needs to be refined, you need knowledge, workforce, energy and resources, such as copper and iron or refined silicon.
If I want to own a solar panel to make myself independent from the utilities, then I have to either produce it for myself (highly unlikely) or pay someone to do it for me. Not only that, I will need someone to install the panel and properly wire it to my domain's electrical network, delivering a steady output of 230 V AC, unless I want to fry my machines or get nothing from them.
As we all know, solar energy is not yet truly feasible. Solar panels are expensive to produce, and in the end a solar panel is only feasible if it produces more energy in its lifetime than was consumed to produce it. Also, I need additional investment to turn a solar panel into my usable power source.
Any Zero Point device would face the same problem: I would need knowledge to turn raw materials into a Zero Point device and hook it up to my local grid. The same rules apply as for the solar panel: the Zero Point device has to produce more energy over its lifetime than was used to produce it, to be feasible. It is also unlikely that I'm able to build my own, so "evil utility corporation" would be replaced by "evil Zero Point corporation".

The second problem which is overlooked is that mankind not only relies on energy. Energy is one aspect, but we also need air, water, food, space as well as goods and raw materials. Energy could be used to produce more fresh water, but we would also need the raw materials and the workforce to build a desalination plant. More energy would help to mine and smelt more raw materials; however, we're talking about much energy that is needed. That raises again the question of how much output a Zero Point device delivers and how it relates to the effort to produce it (and the space and maintainance it consumes). A Zero Point device would need very magic properties, like producing 500 Megawatts from a small cube which can be produced by anyone with household means to truly make an impact.


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