The cheaper the electricity the lower its carbon footprint!

Supply and demand

Photo Credit Milton CJ

I was speaking at the EventoBlog España conference on Saturday and I made the comment that electricity’s carbon footprint tends to increase as it becomes more expensive.

In follow-up questions, I failed to explain well what I meant so I will attempt to do so here.

Electricity pricing (on the wholesale market) is a function of supply and demand. When demand is high, electricity is expensive, when demand is low, electricity is typically cheap.

For weather based renewables (wind, solar, wave) – they produce power completely independently of the price of electricity, so they produce the same amount whether electricity is cheap or expensive.

Since weather based renewables are on average a constant percentage then they tend to have a higher slice of the market when electricity is in low demand/cheaper.

In other words, weather based renewables are independent of demand, therefore at times of low demand, they have a higher share of the market. This is even more so the case for wind which tends to blow more at night when demand is lower.

As there is a definite correlation between low demand and low price, it can be said by extension that the cheaper the electricity, the lower its carbon footprint!


  1. thierry de Baillon says

    alternative electricity sources aren’t really cheaper, unless subsidized, what cannot stand forever… What will be the REAL price of electricity then ?

  2. says


    sorry, I didn’t explain my point well. There is some truth to your point that renewables are often more expensive than non-renewable sources but that is changing with the increased interest in research into renewables, the price of generation is falling.

    Apart from that entirely, my point was about the price of electricity on the wholesale market, not the price of generation. The price on the wholesale market is the price of all the suppliers aggregated versus all the demand. In other words wholesale pricing is entirely a function of supply and demand.


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