"After the communications revolution, we need an energy revolution"
“Our central mission over the next 30 years will be to make the third industrial revolution happen: we already have a new communications world order; now we need an energy revolution.” said Jeremy Rifkin (1) in an interview the European Wind Energy Association published in its magazine Wind Directions.
For J. Rifkin the negatives are very obvious. Global warming is clearly happening. The price of oil is clearly going up. “Today, we have reached 75 dollars a barrel, but it could reach 100 – 120 dollars.” Increasing instability in the producing countries is also pointed out by the US author as a key negative element of the future energy picture.
But Rifkin’s analysis does not stop at this statement. Being at energy crossroads, we have the opportunity to make a better economic future happen: “If we change our energy regime, this will change our economy.” For the author, communications and integrated infrastructure are the key to the energy revolution we need.
Answering to the question of which sources should be part of the future energy mix, Rifkin gives a very straight answer: “I don’t think we have a choice. We need to get rid of CO2. I see our energy future built on a shift from fossil fuels to renewables converted into hydrogen so they can be stored.”
He blames decision-makers for being too resistant in their efforts to promote the renewable energy technologies that are key to bring about the revolution: “There are three primary elements to explain the resistance of decision-makers. One is vested interests in the old energy sources, another is the inability to think in new ways and the third is a deep belief in control from the top down. Conventional energy systems go together with control by elites; by contrast, wind is egalitarian and participatory”.
Rifkin does not see nuclear as an answer to the dual threat of climate change and energy supply security: “Nuclear is way too costly; we still don’t know how to deal with nuclear waste; the deficit of uranium supply is already real and the threat of terrorism is also real!”
(1) President of the Foundation on Economic Trends and professor in Wharton, Jeremy Rifkin is the author of seventeen books on the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, the workforce, society and the environment. In his 2002 international bestseller, The Hydrogen Economy, Rifkin took an eye-opening journey into the next great commercial era.