I would guess that most people by now would know that bio-reactors are the most efficient energy source for machine empires, as explained by several posts in the subreddit and the offical forum, such as this one: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/machine-empire-deep-dive.1141766/
But there is another way that could be even more efficient, Grid Amalgamation.
For people that don't know, a bio-reactor uses 25 food for 20 energy, a conversion rate of 1 food for 0.8 energy, using a building slot in the process. This process is better than using tech-drones which gives us 2.5 energy per bot after pop and district costs, while the agri-drone gives us 4.8 energy using the reactor to convert the food after pop and district costs.
Grid Amalgamation pops (i will call them grid-pops for brievity) on the other hand produce 4 energy per food,with the agri-drone that feeds them using 1 energy for upkeep and the agriculture district itself costing 1 in upkeep, one agri-drone can feed 6 grid-pops producing an amazing 16.5 energy per bot + 6 grid-pops. This is in a 100% habitability planet mind you.
They also help boster the pop number in your planets, letting you get those building slots quicker without utilizing too much housing.
Of course, with great power comes great responsability, in this case, they are the housing and amenities the grid-pops need, and the deviancy (crime) they generate.
Housing isn't a big problem, with the grid-pops being slaves they only use 0.25 housing, the real problem is amenities, with the slaves needing 0.75 amenities in a 100% habitability planet, and even more in a less than ideal planet, where their upkeep can increase by 80% in a 20% habitability planet, which can happen often as machines colonize all planets types with no issue, your grid-pops can end up with bo choice but to live in a barely habitable planet, which also increases food costs.
Deviancy is also an issue, as they generate double the amount a drone does, drones generate 1 and grid-pops generate 2, this can make it a bit tough to keep deviancy at a low level if your grids are too numerous, making you use those precious bulding slots for sentinel posts. This only becomed a problem in large numbers however, so spread the grid pops around and you should be fine.
These grid slaves are also very unhappy, which can also lower your stability, harming production, so be sure to not keep too many of these on a single planet if you dont have enough amenities and sentinel posts to reduce deviancy and keep stability high.
If you want to give Grid Amalgamation it a try you can either use organics conquered in a planet or abduct them through the Nihilist Acquisition ascencion perk, which is pretty nice for Grid Amalgamation, as you can get as many as you need without needing to purge the excess you get from conquering.
TL;DR: Grid Amalgamation is a very useful way to generate energy, it is an even better use of food than bio-reactors, as long as you can manage the downsides that come from it.
© Post "Machine Empires and Grid Amalgamation" for game Stellaris.
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