American utility regulators and policymakers must lift their sights well beyond narrowly defined state and regional concerns if they are going to help usher in a sustainable, efficient energy renaissance, according to prominent author and social thinker Jeremy Rifkin.
That is happening around the world – even across China’s ancient Silk Road.
The transformation from today’s “Second Industrial Revolution” reliant on large baseload power plants that burn fossil fuels to a “Third Industrial Revolution” needs a new “Energy Internet”. That will allow renewable sources of electricity to proliferate, and electricity costs to plummet Rifkin said.
Rifkin will be laying out his vision of our power future – and how to get there, when he opens the Empowering Customers & Cities executive energy conference in Chicago November 1-2.
“We need to help the power companies,” Rifkin said in an exclusive one-hour interview with The Energy Times. “We need to deal with finding the appropriate regulatory model because the regulatory models we have in the United States and Europe and elsewhere are primed for a Second Industrial Revolution, but they are prohibitory for a Third.”
For over a century, much of America’s energy policies have been focused on states and regions.
“The third Industrial Revolution does not like borders,” Rifkin said. “The Internet of Things platform does like not like borders. It likes to move across all borders and across land masses until it reaches the oceans.”
Rifkin said he is working with the Chinese government and the European Union to create a Eurasian Silk Road Economic Belt that will usher in a new energy era over the next three decades. It will extend from Europe to Shanghai.
As a start, China has launched a four-year, $82 billion effort to deploy an “Energy Internet” across China. It will allow millions of Chinese people and thousands of Chinese companies to embrace renewable energy and share electric resources.
“That's what the United States has to do,” Rifkin said. “Our regulatory regimes are designed to protect and secure regions, but you need a common energy grid across continents.”
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