We always hear about how zero point energy, if it could ever be discovered, would change the world. But very rarely do we explore just how much. Often we simply assume the same infrastructure would spring up out of the world that currently exists. But if energy were freely available and could be made from virtually nothing, even if everything else about our technological level were the same there would immediately be some huge changes.
First, let’s say the theoretical device could be contained in an object the size of a microwave oven and could produce enough power to allow a house to function without connecting to a larger power infrastructure fairly similar to the proposed fusion devices announced by developers in Italy. Though the claim itself has been labeled dubious, the possibilities it raises fit for our exploration of the possible future.
With power suddenly available, it’s possible to turn even a modest home into an ecosystem needing only water which (if powered by the same means) would become even cheaper to distribute. No longer dedicated solely to environmental control, with adequate power supply a house could be heated year round consistently making an interior garden lit during the day feasible. Food production could happen within the home via hydroponics or simply planters arranged on shelves lit continuously by UV lamps. A more ambitious home could even have a dedicated desk for production of objects via 3D printers or other similar means of assembly and these could be sold or used as needed.
Transportation is probably the most obvious change often cited. Cars, planes, helicopters, and even boats would be able to run on limitless electrical potential. The only ecological danger may be in the case of boats sinking and continuing to produce energy even when underwater (depending on the means the device used to produce the energy.) Rockets into space would likely still have to use conventional fuels, but in time the limitless fuel may be even used for this purpose.
But there would certainly also be a massive transitional period as time and energy were taken away from projects designed to transport and mine energy sources. The energy production from traditional means such as oil and coal would then be transferred to the new fuel. Millions of jobs would be lost and several companies worldwide would be forced to either adapt or go bankrupt.
Perhaps one of the most important changes that would come from limitless energy production would be the opening up of new places to humanity. The Sahara desert, now a massive inhospitable wasteland, would be able to draw water from far away or deep underground via electric pumps and sustain even vast cities at little to no cost. Manufacturing, mining, growth, development, and all other areas of expansion would become immediately more productive than ever before. A factory that built glass domes for cities, once impossible to run because of its high cost to build the devices would be able to gather glass or synthetic materials far more cheaply and suddenly become viable. And that’s just one example.
Altogether, the far reaching effects of a sudden transportable energy production system would change the world immediately in ways we could only dream of. By the end of it, we would be looking at quite a different world with some of the struggles we deal with every day today suddenly disappearing.