I had a great discussion today with David Cohen, Founder, and Chairman of E7 Ventures. Our topic was the future of energy and his belief that we are rapidly heading towards an Energy Internet. Like most other areas of science and technology, energy is experiencing an exponential progression that likely changes the energy paradigm in the coming decade. In his book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Economist Jeremy Rifkin describes how Internet technology and renewable energies are merging to create an energy Internet that changes the way power is generated and distributed in society — a paradigm shift in energy similar to what occurred in computing. He describes an emergent system with synergies between Five Pillars that drive this paradigm shift:
- Shifting to renewable energy
- Transforming buildings into micro–power plants to collect renewable energies on-site
- Deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies to store intermittent energies
- Using Internet technology to transform the power grid into an energy Internet
- Transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell green electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid
Given the power of this shift, I wanted to get David’s thoughts on its timing and impact. We explored his current view of renewable energy and those likely to accelerate. David sees solar energy as the dominant renewable, and mentioned that the energy internet — and solar in particular — will scale up much faster than people believe — which is a good thing, given that he mentioned energy demand doubling by 2030. In his words, the next ten years is where all the change will happen.
The rest of our dialog focused on solving storage issues, the role of Blockchain in creating an energy internet, and the likely path of the incumbents (part protectionism and part innovation).
You can listen to the full 25 minute podcast below. A transcript of our dialog will follow.