Revolution in renewable energy only way to tackle twin threats of oil and gas shortages and climate change


Jeremy Rifkin, the Wharton Business School’s economic forecasting expert and economic and energy advisor to the EU, speaking in Dublin at the Institute of International and European Affairs[1] on Monday, 7th April, warned that EU governments and leaders in business must make critical changes to how they produce and distribute energy, to combat the looming oil crisis, rising energy costs and climate change.

Speaking to members of the Institute at an event sponsored by NTR plc, Mr Rifkin warned that - “To remain dependent of fossil fuels will have ominous consequences for the future of human civilisation and the ecosystems of the earth. Every government needs to explore new energy paths and establish new economic models with the goal of achieving as close to zero carbon emissions as possible."

He added - “Pivotal economic changes in world history have occurred when new energy regimes converge with new communications regimes. The First Industrial Revolution occurred when coal-powered steam technology came together with the print press. The Second Industrial Revolution saw the convergence of first generation electrical forms of communications - telegraph, telephone, radio, etc. - with the introduction of oil and the internal combustion engine.

“The creation of a renewable energy regime will herald the Third Industrial Revolution. We need to envision a future in which millions of individuals can produce locally-generated renewable energy – solar, wind, hydro, waves, biomass, etc. - store that energy in the form of hydrogen and share their power generation across a Europe-wide intelligent intergrid, through sophisticated IT systems.

“Just as second generation information systems allow businesses and individuals to connect with millions of desktop computers via the Internet, millions of local producers of renewable energy can potentially produce and share far more distributed power than the older centralised forms of energy – oil, gas, coal” - Rifkin concluded.

Brendan Halligan, Chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs, welcomed Jeremy Rifkin - “It is an honour for the Institute of International and European Affairs to host one of the world's foremost thinkers on future trends in economics and energy".

Jim Barry, Chief Executive of NTR plc said - “In recent years, NTR has been focusing on new and innovative renewable energy solutions and we welcome Jeremy’s thought-provoking views on the future direction of this industry.”

During his visit to Dublin, Mr Rifkin will be meeting senior government Ministers. CNN is recording his visit to Dublin.

[1] The Institute of International and European Affairs is a policy research think-tank and forum based in Dublin. It provides members with early warning of EU policy developments and in-depth analysis of their implications for Ireland.