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Jeremy Rifkin is predicting a third industrial revolution that combines distributed power and distributed communication.

Via Beppe Grillo’s blog, who has an extensive interview with Jeremy .



“let me say that the great economic revolutions in history occur when humans change the way they organize the energy of the Earth – number one – and then – number two – when we change the way we communicate with each other to organize these new energy revolutions.

In the early twentieth century the telegraph and telephone communication revolutions converged with oil and the internal combustion engine to give us the second industrial revolution.

Right now we are at the sunset of that second industrial revolution. So the question is, how do we open the door to the third industrial revolution. We can now communicate peer to peer, one to one, one to many, many to one, many to many. I am communicating with you now over the Internet. So this distributed communication revolution – that is the key word: distributed – this flat distributed open source communication revolution is just now beginning to converge with a new distributed energy revolution. And the coming together distributed communication and organized distributed energy, that is going to give us the third industrial revolution.

Distributed energies are found in the backyard. They are all over Italy, all over the world: the Sun shines everywhere on the Planet, the wind blow across the Earth, in we like on a coast we have ocean tides and waves, underneath the ground we have thermal heat. We have small hydro, with water. So, these are distributed energies, they are literally found everywhere, so the European Union is committed to pillar one of the four pillar of the third industrial revolution, which is distributed renewable energy.

Number one: we are going to renewable energies, they are distributed. The European Union has made that commitment: 20% renewables.

Number two: we are going to buildings as positive power plants. Millions of buildings that collect their energy. And the first building as power plant is already up. They already exist.

Then, pillar three: how do we store this renewable energy. Because the Sun is not always shining, even in the beautiful Italy, the wind is not always blowing, and you can have water tables down because of drought for hydroelectricity. So pillar three is: we are going to introduce storage technology and the main storage is going to be hydrogen. Hydrogen stores renewable energy the way digital stores media.

Then pillar four: this is the last pillar. This is where that distributed communication revolution, that I mentioned earlier, connects with distributed renewable energy to create a third industrial revolution. We take the same technology that we use for the Internet. It is identical. And the take the power grid of Italy and the EU and the World and we turn it into an inter-grid that acts just like the inter-net. So that, when you and I and millions of others produce our own energy, just like we produce our own information out of our computers, we store our energy in hydrogen just like we store our media with digital, and then with a smart power grid manager we share the surplus across Italy and Europe on an InterGrid that acts like the Internet. That is the third industrial revolution.

The third industrial revolution, this distributed revolution is power to the people. And for generation that grew up on the Internet this is the conclusion and completion of that revolution. Just like we can now rely on things like this Internet: we are now sitting and talking on the Internet at each other and you can have hundreds of thousand of people on the Internet and it is all free and you don’t have to rely on some centralized television network and it is all open source and you are sharing it. Is it correct? Why can’t we do that with energy?” (