The Third Industrial Revolution
We refer in The World’s Progress Without Justice to the idea of the Third Industrial Revolution and to Jeremy Rifkin’s book of the same name, and to the age of lateral power he sees emerging. So, we will be repeating ourselves further on a little, but the news is so good it bears a little repetition. Jeremy Rifkin has an interesting story, too:
In an article here that we’ve already mentioned, Jeremy Rifkin, who, by the way, studied at Philadelphia University, talks about his vision of the Third Industrial Revolution here, and here in the World Financial Review. Here’s another piece, from the Huffington Post, and this one from the WFR, where he talks about the collaborative commons.
Rifkin compares Natural Energy to information and how Internet technology and renewable energies are merging. He points out how the rate of natural energy technological improvement and the rate the cost is falling is accelerating. He predicts that as the distribution of information is becoming nearly free, so natural energy will follow.
Rifkin talks about an energy Internet, an Intergrid. Continent-wide smart grids that work exactly like the Internet. Smart grids are bidirectional, they work both ways, electrical energy can be taken out of it and fed into it. An Intergrid would allow businesses and households to produce their own energy and share it, in the same way as emailing attachments or downloading from a website. This sounds fantastical alright, but – what a surprise – such systems are already being developed in Germany.
It’s all happening in Germany; there’s even a zero emissions aeroplane flying around.
This is what buildings in Germany are starting to look like:
For a fair amount of the time, this building will be feeding electricity into the grid, once it’s all set up; and it will be.
Jeremy Rifkin sees new buildings, adapted old buildings, acting as positive power plants capturing natural energy, feeding surpluses into the grid. Technologies are there to provide this: houses, offices, that are power plants. This is hard to imagine, with the kind of buildings we’re used to, that they could be power plants. Actually, though, we stress, Germany already has about a million such buildings. The world will need to catch up with Germany.
The pretty village of Wildpolsried actually produces, cleanly, 321% more energy than it wants, and sells the rest to the national grid for €4 million.