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YUTIAN COUNTY, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 9: (CHINA OUT) Keriyan villagers look out of their yard at the Daheyan Village on September 9, 2007 in Yutian County of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. Keriyans, a mysterious tribe of the Uigur, live in the center of the Taklamakan desert of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They seldom get married with outsiders and are known as the "primitive tribe in the desert". Xinjiang has been noted in ancient times along the old silk road as a political and commercial centre. It is the hub of an important commercial region, bordering Russia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan with Pakistan to its south. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Continental Energy Regulation

An energy internet must not get mired in state regulation

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.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 05: President of the Foundation on Economic Trends Jeremy Rifkin speaks during a keynote address by President and CEO of Consumer Electronics at Samsung Electronics Boo-Keun Yoon at the 2015 International CES at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 5, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs from January 6-9 and is expected to feature 3,600 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 150,000 attendees. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Jeremy Rifkin


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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