The Renewable Energy Revolution

The Future of Energy: Lateral Power to the People

By Maximilian Dearman and Missy Lahren (2015)

Film Review

This film takes its title from Jeremy Rifkin’s 2011 book The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy and the World. The students who crowdfunded this documentary are clearly influenced by Rifkin’s relative blindness to the realities of class society. That being said, the film presents much valuable information about key players in the renewable energy revolution.

The video sets out to prove Rifkin’s thesis that “revolution” inevitably occurs when there are major simultaneous breakthroughs in energy production and communication. According to Rifkin, the first industrial revolution occurred in 1820, with the simultaneous development of coal-based steam power and letter-press printing; the second in 1900 with the simultaneous development of the combustion engine and electronic communication (telephone, radio and TV). He asserts the third industrial revolution has already started, owing to the simultaneous rise of renewable energy and the Internet. He’s convinced that the combined efforts of the business community and the nonprofit sector have already put the US on track to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 – regardless of government inactivity on climate change.

The filmmakers are clear converts to Rifkin’s views on market-based solar energy conversion. They argue the above trajectory is inevitable now that solar energy has become cheaper than fossil fuels. They erroneously attribute the price drop for solar photo voltaic cells (PVCs) to an “economy of scale” effect (ie high demand for an item allows you to mass produce it and the price drops). They also argue the cost of renewable energy will continue to fall, while fossil fuel costs will increase as finite resources diminish.

A more realistic analysis would attribute the current low cost of PVCs to low production costs – in Chinese sweatshops using super cheap electricity from coal-fired power plants. These costs will increase exponentially as Chinese wages continue to improve and as China’s government reduces their reliance on dirty coal.

On the other hand, the film is chock full of useful information about US cities that have already switched to 100% renewable energy, as well as numerous groups and programs that have helped make this possible:

Grid Alternatives – a national nonprofit organization that installs free solar panels in low income communities, while simultaneously low income volunteers to become solar technicians.
Community Choice Aggregation – a system adopted into law in the states of Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Illinois which allows cities and counties to aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction in order to secure alternative energy supply contracts on a community-wide basis. Energy will always be cheaper, more efficient and more planet-friendly when it stays in the communities where it’s produced and is controlled by those communities.
• Green for All – a national organization founded to ensure that low income communities and communities of color have access to renewable energy technology and jobs.
B-Corporations – a framework and certification for corporations wishing to benefit their communities, as well as their shareholders.
Mosaic – a conduit for small renewable energy entrepreneurs to obtain financing when banks refuse to loan them money.
• Power Shift, Cool the Earth, Alliance for Climate Education – national groups working to get rood information about renewable energy alternatives into schools.
• Longevity – a 20 year solar lease program for families who can’t afford to pay $7,000 upfront for their solar energy panels.

 


13 thoughts on “The Renewable Energy Revolution

  1. Again, I am going to reblog this first (tomorrow, and then try to watch it. But from your breakdown, I already can see this is valuable information for all of us to have.

    Just one thing, on climate change. At some point, we are going to have to do something about the government’s/military’s climate geoengineering, because I believe a great deal of the climate issues in our part of the world are being caused by chemical and metal spraying of the upper atmosphere (HAARP, chemtrails, etc), and which is also causing health problems for many of us. And this is not going to go away without some action being taken by the people.

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    • I guess it’s all a matter of priorities, sojourner. If stopping warming is our highest priority, I feel we should go after activities that will reduce CO2 emissions the most rapidly. According to my reckoning, the three approaches that are most likely to accomplish this most quickly are getting people in the developed world out of their gas-powered cars into public or active transport like walking or cycling, shutting down coal and gas fuel power plants by developing renewable energy alternatives and putting a steep carbon tax on air travel..

      I, too, am really concerned about the health effects (and solar dimming) caused by chemtrails, but my sense is that their contribution to CO2 emissions is relatively small compared to these other effects.

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      • I agree, sustainable, alternate sources of energy must be at the forefront of actions taken.

        Maybe the other is happening here more than around the rest of the world? But small farmers and people my age see a climate that is completely screwed at the moment, and I can’t help but believe it is caused by more than just CO2 levels.

        Time will tell.

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  2. “He asserts the third industrial revolution has already started, owing to the simultaneous rise of renewable energy and the Internet.”

    Solar panels and windmills as well as the Internet seem to be more and more parts of our life. Only a few years ago we just did not have these things. These changes are definitely revolutionary!

    Do not PVCs represent and environmental problem?

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  3. Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II and commented:
    Here is yet another excellent way for we the individuals, collectively, to detach from, and stop cooperating with, this system/order, which is eagerly seeking our complete enslavement and/or destruction!

    Like

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