It was 2014 when I was first exposed to the concept of an Energy Internet. It was Economist Jeremy Rifkin in his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society that introduced it as part of a broader vision for a new general purpose technology platform (GPTP). I have since written extensively about the Shifting Energy Paradigm and the implication for society. When evaluating the three foundational components of a GPTP (Energy, Communications, and Transport), changes to the energy component have historically driven the biggest societal transformations.Continue reading
This Article provides a very good example of domains that are converging in ways that shape our future. In this example, innovations in science and technology converge with future scenarios involving the emerging Mobility Ecosystem and one that is often described as the emerging Energy Internet. Author Jeff McMahon indicates that there will be more than enough batteries in electric vehicles by 2050 to support a grid that runs on solar and wind—if the two are connected by smart chargers, according to experts at the International Renewable Energy Agency.
As described in an earlier post, these Intersections across multiple domains introduce new scenarios that amplify impact. In this example, the boundaries between mobility and energy blur, creating a synergistic linkage between the two ecosystems. This complex and unpredictable dynamic complicates our Future Thinking exercise – but it may be the most critical focus of any forward-looking effort. The above referenced article provides a good example of how the Convergence of science and technology leads to a convergence with multiple future scenarios. Visualization helps to understand the various dots that are connecting.
Our energy platform has not changed since the early days of the second industrial revolution. Energy is one of the three foundational pillars of our society – with communication and transport representing the other two. Collectively, they create a general purpose technology platform that enables our society. Although we talk a lot about a Fourth Industrial Revolution, in reality, there was never a third shift in this foundational platform.
Today on Coffee Break with Game Changers, Bonnie D. Graham hosted a show focused on the future of energy. You can listen to the rebroadcast here. The session abstract is included below, as well as a Twitter stream that provides insight into the topic and our discussion. The show participants included: Bonnie, Gray Scott, Tom Franklin, and myself. You can take a deeper dive on the topic via this Discussion with David Cohen.
The Energy Internet is positioned to transform our lives – perhaps on a larger scale than the Internet before it. This dynamic, distributed, and multi-participant Enernet – as some are calling it – is built around clean energy generation, storage and delivery. With a long list of innovators emerging, the resulting innovation will drive massive change, including how we think about cities, municipal services, transportation, insurance, real estate, financial services, and more.
In his sixth post in the series, Marshall Kirkpatrick focuses on the intersection between artificial intelligence and renewable energy. By way of reminder, Marshall launched a 30 day series that explores the intersection between AI and the various innovation components on my emerging futures visual.
I have used this picture for the better part of 18 months to describe the coming Third Revolution. The visual is getting broader exposure, so I wanted to provide a more detailed description. The blue curve is the science and technology progression curve. The progression of science and technology continues its unabated exponential rise, and leaders can only see so far on the curve. This creates an uncertainty that makes it difficult to understand the implications of technology into the future.
The next post in this continued look at disruptive scenarios focuses on the Logistics Internet. In his recent book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Jeremy Rifkin describes an Economic Paradigm Shift driven by a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) platform. The Logistics Internet is one of three components that make up this TIR platform (communications and energy are the other two). As the three components converge, they create a general purpose technology platform that drives a third revolution. Mr. Rifkin believes we are in the early stages of an automated transport and logistics Internet, and he describes his thinking in this short Video.
In his new book, Rifkin describes the process by which suppliers and buyers connect and conduct business (Logistics) as the driver of the whole economic system. Yet, he maintains that the means by which goods and services are stored and delivered is grossly inefficient and unproductive. Rifkin suggests that a rethinking of the way we store and ship materials and goods is in order. Several supporting facts are provided in the book:
The focus on disruptive scenarios continues in the next several posts with a look at the work of Jeremy Rifkin and his recent book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society. In his book, he describes the economic paradigm shifts of the past, and points to three elements that converge to create a general purpose technology platform to drive the shift: new forms of communication, new forms of energy, and new mechanisms for transport and logistics. Rifkin believes a powerful Third Industrial Revolution platform (The Internet of Things) is emerging to drive an economic paradigm shift in the next 40 years. The new form of communications in this context is the Internet, while renewable energy represents the new form of energy. The new mechanisms for logistics and transport involve sensors, coordinated logistic networks, renewable energy, and autonomous vehicles. Mr. Rifkin describes this Third Industrial Revolution platform as three Internets (Communication, Energy, and Logistics) converging to operate as one. He sees the Internet of things bringing these three elements together to manage (Communications), power (Energy), and move (Logistics) economic activity.
Does the combination of emerging disruptive scenarios create a new economic paradigm? In The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Jeremy Rifkin describes a world where nearly free goods and services are enabled by the Internet of Things to drive a new paradigm that eclipses capitalism – the Collaborative Commons. It seems the exponential curve of technology is pushing the operating logic of Capitalism – which focuses on driving ever increasing levels of productivity – towards an extreme level of productivity. Its success could therefore be its undoing. I am a firm believer that this emerging period will ultimately be viewed as the most transformative of all time – but I must admit – I did not make this leap. While reading, I found myself focused on business model questions facing every industry – and through that lens, the story resonated with me. It prompted me to revise the anchor visual that I have used throughout this look at disruptive scenarios. I posed this simple question: does combinatorial innovation create a third curve?