Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute , that explores converting the United States to almost total reliance on renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and wind power. Lovins says that renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels and his analysis predicts further reductions in renewable energy prices. Rowe , CEO of Exelon. Imagine fuel without fear.
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Rather, companies, planners and experts must devise hybrid solutions that solve parallel problems facing the U. Cutting the fossil fuel use is only part of the benefit. And this can all be done with no new technologies, no acts of Congress, with administrative decisions and led by business, for profit.
They could all be done administratively or at a state level. An example: The majority of states still reward utilities for selling more power, rather than cutting the bill. Reversing this is critical to enlisting utilities in the push to improve efficiency.
Altering rules to encourage fair interconnection and open competition on the grid is controlled by FERC Federal Energy Regulatory Commission , and needs no legislative overhauls.
Lovins has been thinking very big for a long time. Getting to these goals, he argues, is about scaling up our thinking -- a tough challenge for policy makers and technicians trained to think incrementally. Rather than focus on technology and policy, Lovins said his team factors in design -- with deep understanding of process technologies, such as how carbon fiber can be used to radically cut vehicle weight, and business strategy. By getting competitive rewards right, he explained, there is scant need to regulate many of these transformations.
The triumvirate of buildings, cars and the grid offer an example of the synergies has RMI identified. Buildings consume three-fourths of our power, yet neither buildings nor the grid have meaningful ability to store energy. Vehicles meanwhile are electrifying, with the development of hybrid and battery-powered cars. Indeed, remaking the grid from its original centralized design, Lovins explained, represents one of the greatest challenges ahead, but that comes with enormous rewards.
As our grid becomes increasingly vulnerable to faults from equipment failure, willful attack or even sunspot activity, the risk of a cataclysmic national scale grid failure is rising. In the face of hundreds of blackouts in , Lovins said, Cuba reorganized its power transmission into networked island-able microgrids and cut the frequency of blackouts to zero within two years -- limiting damage even in the face of two hurricanes.
The best solution for any of these individual problems is the same. So whether or not one believes in climate change, the imperative to boost economic growth justifies the same approach.
By focusing on outcomes, rather than motives, Lovins said, disagreements should disappear. Show comments for this story. View the discussion thread. Share this article Twitter Facebook Linkedin. More by This Author. Sports sustainability gurus share their all-star plays By Adam Aston. How to jump-start the vehicle-based smart grid By Adam Aston.
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Review: “Reinventing Fire” by Amory Lovins
Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era offers market-based, actionable solutions integrating transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. Digging up and burning the deposits of ancient sunlight stored eons ago in primeval swamps has transformed human existence and made industrial and urban civilization possible. But the biggest hidden costs are economic and military. Those military costs are about ten times what we pay to buy oil from the Persian Gulf, and rival total defense spending at the height of the Cold War. Any costs to health, safety, environment, security of energy supply, world stability and peace, or national independence or reputation are extra. And even if fossil fuels had no hidden costs, they are all finite, with extraction peaking typically in this generation. Even U.
Rather, companies, planners and experts must devise hybrid solutions that solve parallel problems facing the U. Cutting the fossil fuel use is only part of the benefit. And this can all be done with no new technologies, no acts of Congress, with administrative decisions and led by business, for profit. They could all be done administratively or at a state level. An example: The majority of states still reward utilities for selling more power, rather than cutting the bill.