The 2013/08/05 at 08:02
Get ready, Lille – Jeremy Rifkin, the star economist and futurologist from the States is on his way. This American who wields considerable influence over public opinion and public policies in the United States, already enjoys great renown in Europe in his capacity as advisor to company heads and Heads of State such as Angela Merkel in Germany and the Italian politician Romano Prodi. But this is the first time that he will be advising a French region, at the initiative of the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry: from 13 to 15 May, Jeremy Rifkin runned a seminar in Lille, addressing numerous regional and local decision-makers and players, a key stage in the construction of the action plan that is to detail the way in which the Nord-Pas de Calais region can concretely commit to a post-carbon economy and become a pioneering region.
1 – A vision for the region seeking to be at the forefront of current changes
“Our objective is to provide a vision of what the region may be like in 30 years, starting by applying the first concrete initiatives from 2014 onwards,” explains Philippe Vasseur, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Nord Region, for whom this project, unique in France, bears very strong potential, namely in terms of job creation, economic development and new economic coherence. The aim of the project is to give second wind to a region that must cease “being a region of the past in order to become a region of the future”.
Rifkin’s project is wide-reaching. The idea is that with Internet and renewable energies, we are at the dawn of a Third Industrial Revolution that we must commit to straight away. The Nord-Pas de Calais, a former coal-producing region, will be France’s laboratory and pilot for the energy and economic transition that Rifkin advocates in his work The Third Industrial Revolution, published in 2012. Rifkin’s research led him to conclude that in to our homes, each of us can become producers of energy that we can soon exchange simply on Internet, with major energy operators becoming distributors rather than producers.
According to his already proven method, it is necessary to decentralise energy infrastructures by facilitating the creation of countless “mini-power plants”. And beefing up on solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy sources. It is also necessary to invest in storage technologies, such as hydrogen batteries. And to set up an “energy Internet” capable of transforming the current centralised electrical grid “into a web of micro-players who can buy and sell their electricity thanks to information technologies”. Finally, his plan includes the electrification of transport, rechargeable on this decentralised grid.
2 - The Rifkin method for the decentralised energy revolution
This project, launched in October last year, is now in its operational phrase. Jeremy Rifkin has 9 months to draft a global and comprehensive roadmap. Working groups made up of experts and decision-makers, but also small and large players in the regional economy, have already established well-defined themes: distributed renewable energies, energy-producing buildings, energy efficiency, energy storage, smart networks, innovation in mobility, the economy of functionality, and circular economy. Dialoguing with the consultant’s experts who regularly travel over from the States, they need to define and identify the first projects and key ideas holding strong innovation potential, then set up scenarios.
In summer, “citizen” meetings touching a wider public will be organised in the regional territory, with debates open to all. As the President of the CCI notes, the project “really involves people who want to seize onto their future”. Finally, at the end of the next World Forum Lille, to be held from 23 to 25 October 2013, Jeremy Rifkin will be presenting his conclusions and the definitive version of the master plan and its figured objectives for 2050, with concrete implementation starting from the beginning of 2014 onwards.
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