Today, we are on the cusp of another convergence of communication technology and energy regimes.
The conventional top-down organization of society that characterized much of the economic, social and political life of the fossil fuel-based industrial revolution is giving way to distributed and collaborative relationships in the emerging green industrial era.
Focusing on innovative technologies to support the shift to renewable energy
About 10,000 times more energy from the Sun continuously reaches the surface of Earth than what the entire world is consuming. Scientists point out that one hour of sunlight provides enough power to run a global economy for a full year.
The growing differential between the rising costs of the old fossil fuel energy and the declining cost of renewable energy is setting the stage for an upheaval of the global economy and the emergence of a new economic paradigm for the twenty-first century.
Developing on-site distributed power technologies to create interactive regional energy webs
The sun shines on every part of the Earth every day, even if the intensity varies. The wind blows all over the world, even if the frequency is intermittent. If renewable energy is distributed and found in various proportions and frequencies everywhere in the world, why would we want to collect them in only a few central points?
In the future, the construction industry and the real estate sector would team up with renewable energy companies to convert or construct buildings– homes, offices, shopping malls, industrial and technology parks– to serve as both power plants and habitats. The wholesale conversion of commercial and residential building stock into micro-power plants over the next decades will touch off a building boom– creating thousands of new businesses and millions of new jobs– with an economic multiplier effect that will impact every other industry.
ENERGY STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES
Creating environmentally friendly, high performance and low-cost renewable energy storage
Almost all energy on Earth, about 130,000 TW continuous, comes from the Sun, which is supposed to last at least for another 4.5 billion years. Therefore, humanity per se does not have an energy problem, but rather an energy storage and energy carrier problem.
We need to quickly invest in research to bring technologies online that can store renewable energy. When the sun is shining on photovoltaic panels on the roof, electricity is generated, most of which is used instantly to power the building. If, however, there is a surplus of electricity that is not immediately consumed or fed to the grid, it can be stored or used in the process of electrolysis to sequester hydrogen in a storage system. When the sun isn’t shining, the hydrogen can be transformed back into electricity by a fuel cell to provide power.
Cost-effective, reliable energy storage technologies are the key to a sustainable future.
DIGITAL POWER NETWORK AND THE ENERGY INTERNET
Using Internet technology to transform the power grid into an energy-sharing intergrid
In the coming era, millions of people will be generating green energy in their homes, offices, and factories, and sharing surpluses peer-to-peer with one another across intelligent distributed electricity networks– an intergrid– just like people now create their own information and share it on the Internet. This means that the power grid must be digitalized and made intelligent to handle the intermittent renewable energy being fed to the grid from tens of thousands of local producers of energy.
This intelligent energy network will embrace virtually every facet of life. Homes, offices, factories, and vehicles will continuously communicate with one another, sharing information and energy on a 24/7 basis. Since the true price of electricity on the grid varies during any twenty-four-hour period, real-time information displayed on digital meters in every building would allow for dynamic pricing, letting consumers increase or decrease their energy use automatically, depending on price. Dynamic pricing also will let local energy producers know the best time to sell electricity back to the grid or to go off the grid altogether.