Make a list of all of the biggest problems on the planet and you’ll likely write things like “lack of fresh drinking water,” “food shortages,” and “air pollution,” just to name a few. If you then analyzed the list to pinpoint a single key that could help solve all the major problems, you’d likely narrow it down to one thing: Energy.

Energy is needed to do just about everything. Whether you want to convert salt water to fresh water or increase agricultural production, you need energy. In short, for all the biggest problems on the planet, the solution involves, to a great extent, energy.

This means that if we can solve the energy problem, then we can solve some of the biggest problems on the planet. The good news is that we’re on our way to doing some major transformations in energy.\

One thing we know for sure, though, is that as more people need and use energy on the planet, prices will go up unless we have something to offset the cost of energy. Fortunately, there is something that will offset the cost of energy, and that is intelligence energy management systems.

In order to make energy management systems intelligent, you need to put chips on just about everything from cement to plastic, roads to light bulbs, and of course machines. But chips alone won’t help; we need to get them to communicate with each other including using wireless connections.  When machines talk to other machines, we refer to this as M2M (machine to machine communications). This technology is so ripe for development and wide scale deployment that China expects to have over one billion machines talking to each other by the end of the decade.

By getting machines to talk to other machines, by putting intelligence in everything that uses energy (including buildings and appliances), and by making the electronic grid a smart grid that can get smarter each year, we can do amazing things.

How amazing? The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy just completed a study. They estimated that the United States could slash 12% to 22% of our energy needs and usage just by using intelligent energy management systems.

And that’s not all.  By 2015, the US Department of Defense believes they can cut up to 30% of the entire department’s energy needs simply by using better energy management software and making things intelligent.

We’re in the process of making cities more intelligent, including the roads, the stop signs, the traffic lights, and anything that uses energy. Currently, though, most of the things that use energy are dumb and they’re not connected other than to get power. But if we connect them to make them intelligent, then suddenly you can reduce energy use tremendously just as the demand is increasing.

If we don’t implement intelligent energy management for our cars, buildings, roads, and everything that uses fuel and energy, the costs of energy will rise fast. What’s interesting, though, is that the price of intelligence is going down just as the power of intelligence is going up, and that’s thanks to Moore’s Law. In other words, processing power doubles every 18 months as the price drops in half. So the cost of making things intelligent is dropping very quickly. That’s something to capitalize on.

Make no mistake: An energy revolution is occurring. Petroleum, coal, wind, solar…all are needed. The key is combining the old (made intelligent) with the new (with some new technology that allows for M2M communications all connected to intelligent power grids). Only then can we have a less polluted and more efficient future with a reasonable cost for energy.