THE RIFKIN REPORT – An Overview
The following is an overview of “San Antonio: Leading the Way Forward to the Third Industrial Revolution” prepared by Solar San Antonio. The full report can be read and/or downloaded at http://www.solarsanantonio.org/pdf/A_Vision_for_Sustainability.pdf
The plan incorporates the principles of what Mr. Rifkin calls the Third Industrial Revolution
Prelude: Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction.
Pillar One: Renewable Energy – Wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and other renewable energy sources; some centralized and lots of distributed.
Pillar Two: Buildings as Power Plants – After energy efficiency is achieved, then solar, micro-wind, etc. are added to meet part of building’s energy needs and, if possible, make building a net energy provider.
Pillar Three: Hydrogen Storage – Use the hydrogen solution to energy storage to make renewable/hydrogen hybrid the baseload power supply.
Pillar Four: Smart Grid and Plug-in Vehicles – Establish an electric grid that can manage energy consumption and receipt of power from thousands of disbursed energy generators.
The plan for the Third Industrial Revolution is both for CPS and the City of San Antonio. Over the 20 year life of the plan, an entirely new economic infrastructure will be established in San Antonio. The goal is to make San Antonio the first comprehensively post-carbon metropolitan area. No city has done this yet.
The implementation will begin with a heavy emphasis on energy efficiency and then move on to the establishment of the infrastructure.
The investment will be pegged at 5% of the yearly economic development funds. San Antonio’s yearly economic development funds in 2008 were $8-9 billion, projected to grow to $23 billion in 2030. The average would be $15 – 20 billion per year. 5% would be approximately $800 million per year. That would be the investment goal.
The investment would produce new jobs, have a major multiplier effect on the local economy, and create new economic opportunities. Returns would come right away from construction, real estate development, storage, power grid, etc. – each with their own multiplier effect.
Solar energy would be the centerpiece of the development strategy. With 300,000 physical plants, harnessing only a small percentage through installation of solar would produce far more energy than will be derived from proposed central generators.
One major goal is significant reduction in green house gas emissions.
From the CPS Energy website: The [CPS Energy] Board further believes it would be prudent to pursue the creation of new, decentralized forms of energy, using Third Industrial Revolution methodology proposed by Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in the United States. “We need to envision a future in which millions of individuals can collect and produce locally generated renewable energy in their homes, offices, factories and vehicles; store that energy in the form of hydrogen; and share their power generation with each other across a continent-wide intelligent intergrid,” Mr. Rifkin says.
His Third Industrial Revolution approach rests on four pillars, the first of which – renewable energy – is already a key part of our Strategic Energy Plan. The other three pillars are buildings as positive power plants, hydrogen storage and smart grids/plug-in vehicles. Some of Mr. Rifkin’s thoughts about the pillars are as follows:
· Buildings as positive power plants – “While renewable energy is found everywhere and new technologies are allowing us to harness it more cheaply and efficiently, we need infrastructure to load it. Over the next 40 years, millions of buildings will be renovated or constructed to serve both as ‘power plants’ and habitats. These buildings will collect and generate energy locally from the sun, wind, garbage, agricultural and forestry waste, ocean waves and tides, hydro and geothermal – enough to provide for their power needs as well as surplus energy that can be shared.”
· Hydrogen storage – “To maximize renewable energy and to minimize cost, it will be necessary to develop storage methods that facilitate the conversion of intermittent supplies of these energy sources into reliable assets. Batteries, differentiated water pumping and other media can provide limited storage capacity. There is, however, one storage medium that is widely available and can be relatively efficient. Hydrogen is the universal medium that ‘stores’ all forms of renewable energy to assure that a stable and reliable supply is available for power generation and, equally important, for transport.”
· Smart grids/plug-in vehicles – “The new smart grids, or intergrids, will revolutionize the way electricity is produced and delivered. Millions of existing and new buildings will be converted or built to serve as ‘positive power plants’ that can capture local renewable energy to create electricity to power buildings, while sharing the surplus power with others across smart intergrids, just like we now produce our own information and share it with each other across the Internet. The electricity we produce in our buildings from renewable energy will also be used to power electric plug-in cars or to create hydrogen to power fuel cell vehicles. The electric plug-in vehicles, in turn, will also serve as portable power plants that can sell electricity back to the main grid.”