The Creation of the Worldwide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth
In The Hydrogen Economy
, best-selling author Jeremy Rifkin
takes us on an eye-opening journey into the next great commercial
era in history. He envisions the dawn of a new economy powered by
hydrogen that will fundamentally change the nature of our market,
political and social institutions, just as coal and steam power did
at the beginning of the industrial age.
Rifkin observes that we are fast approaching a critical
watershed for the fossil-fuel era, with potentially dire
consequences for industrial civilization. Experts had been saying
that we had another forty or so years of cheap available crude oil
left. Now, however, some of the world?s leading petroleum
geologists are suggesting that global oil production could peak and
begin a steep decline much sooner, as early as the end of this
decade, sending oil prices through the roof.
While the fossil fuel era is entering its sunset years, a new
energy regime is being born that has the potential to remake
civilization. Hydrogen is the most basic and ubiquitous element in
the universe. It is the stuff of the stars and of our sun and, when
properly harnessed, it is the ?forever fuel.? It never
runs out and produces no harmful CO2 emissions. Commercial
fuel-cells powered by hydrogen are just now being introduced into
the market for home, office and industrial use. The major
automakers have spent more than two billion dollars developing
hydrogen cars, buses, and trucks, and the first mass-produced
vehicles are expected to be on the road in just a few years.
In the new era, says Rifkin, every human being could become the
producer as well as the consumer of his or her own energy ?
so called ?distributed generation.? When millions of
end-users connect their fuel-cells into local, regional, and
national hydrogen energy webs (HEWs), using the same design
principles and smart technologies that made possible the World Wide
Web, they can begin to share energy ? peer-to-peer ?
creating a new decentralized form of energy use.
Hydrogen has the potential to end the world?s reliance on
imported oil and help diffuse the dangerous geopolitical game being
played out between Muslim militants and Western nations. It will
dramatically cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and mitigate the
effects of global warming. And because hydrogen is so plentiful and
exists everywhere on earth, every human being could be
?empowered,? making it the first truly democratic
energy regime in history.