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Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era [Hardcover]

Amory Lovins , Marvin Odum , John W. Rowe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Oct. 15 2011

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book lays-out a roadmap for increasing energy efficiency in every sector, be it for mobility, households, and industry. It presents a compelling case to get us almost completely off fossil fuels by 2050 and all for profit. The economic costs of not doing-so far outweight the benefits of doing so (several trillions in opportunity cost in the US alone over the next 40 years). Most importantly, the case and methods for increasing energy efficiency made in this book are not ideological (i.e., substituting one's favourite technology for non-profit reasons). Rather, they are for purely economic reasons.

Therefore, whether one believes in climate change or not doesn't matter. The economic arguments for increasing energy efficiency and the solutions to get there are thoroughly presented in this book and hold their own on a purely cost/benefit basis discounted to today's prices and only using today's already existing technologies. I re-iterate, although external costs (e.g., climate, pollution, health care, lobbying, etc...) clearly do exist and although future innovations in technology will undoubtedly occur, these are not quantified in making the economic arguments in this book. The path is clear.

Finally, I also found it refreshing that the book was peer-reviewed by politicians and civil servants from both sides of the political spectrum as well as leaders of industry, and for profit. The solutions for energy efficiency represent great opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, and individuals alike.

Hopefully this book will make its way to as many entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and business leaders as possible. We can all benefit from it and at the end of the day, make the World a much better place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Get Two, one for You and one to gift. June 12 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of the few book that offer solution and a plan to get off oil dependency that are based in embracing sensible technical solutions. LFTR (thorium) reactors are left out as a potential energy solution and no discussion of clathrate extraction, but many inspired plans to address the global crisis with beneficial outcomes such as job creation and enhanced national security. An uplifting book, buy two and give one to you local politician if you think they know how to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book! Sept. 26 2013
By ang
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to everyone world wide especially CEO's so they can understand how to save the world and save millions of dollars all at the same time
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  48 reviews
114 of 131 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not for Kindle Jan. 8 2012
By Alan Petrillo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amory Lovins is a genius, and RMI is a really great outfit. This is a good and extremely important book, but the Kindle edition is unreadable. RMI's insistence on using sidebars on practically every page, and the Kindle format's attempt to integrate the sidebars into the text render the Kindle edition disjointed to the point of unintelligibility. Get it on paper. Don't bother with the Kindle edition.
50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! Nov. 12 2011
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Lovins opens with a hopeful note - that the 'tipping point,' where alternatives work better than oil and coal-fired energy, is here. Unfortunately, since he wrote that the price of natural gas has fallen greatly, and that is not the case. Transition, per Lovins, will cost $5 trillion LESS than business-as-usual, and will require no new federal taxes or subsidies. Improved efficiency is the primary driver, with new renewable sources the secondary, contrary to former V.P. Cheney's stating that conservation is simply a "sign of personal virtue" and that relying on renewables would threaten "our way of life."

Origins of Major Energy Problems: Burning oil and fueling power plants each release over 40% of America's and the world's CO2; nearly 75% of the former fuels mobility, and the same proportion runs buildings - the rest powers industry. In 2000, if Gulf oil imports had been charged the cost of forces poised to intervene in that area, they would have been priced $77/bbl higher; subsidizing the costs of oil consumption in the U.S. puts American automakers at a disadvantage and complicates efforts to reduce consumption. (Eg. Ford's truck plant in Wayne, MI. earned $3.7 billion in 1998 making 12 mpg Ford Expeditions and other SUVs. The U.S. 54.5 mpg standard for 2025 is still about 17% less than Europe's for 2020.) Two-thirds of Saudi oil flows through one processing plant and two terminals; a Pentagon study found that a handful of people in one evening could cut off 75% of the oil/gas to the eastern U.S. without leaving Louisiana. Transportation of coal and the distribution of electricity within the U.S. is not secure either. Half our fossil-fuel withdrawals have occurred since 1985.

Reducing weight is the simplest route to improved auto fuel efficiency. Manufacturers have learned how to make thermoplastic body parts in less than a minute, vs. hours for their predecessor carbon-fiber parts. Composites also all about a 10X reduction in the 100 - 200 parts needed for a typical auto body, and the molding/welding processes are also simpler. Vehicle size, not weight is a key safety factor - thus, safety can be improved by building lighter cars, or reducing the weight of all cars/pickups. Carbon-fiber composites are about 6X better at absorbing crash energy as aluminum, which is about 2X better than steel.

New engine technology (eg. electrically-actuated values - Sturman; opposed piston-opposed cylinders instead of mechanically-operated via camshafts - OPOC) offer possible 50% improvement in efficiency.

A study from a consortium of 35 steel producers showed auto structures could be made 25% lighter using advanced steels and manufacturing, at no extra cost - eg. varying the thickness according to need. A major automaker found it could cut aerodynamic drag about 30%, and boost fuel economy 14%. Changing from the least to the most efficient tires would improve mileage 8 - 12%, without added cost. VW's XL1 carbon-fiber two-seater plug-in hybrid with a .8L 48 hp. diesel and 27 hp electric motors weighs 1,752 lbs, had a 0.186 coefficient of drag, and offers 230 mpg gasoline-equivalent performance - it is scheduled for limited 2013 production. Placing an electric motor in each wheel eliminates the need for a transmission, clutch, drive shaft, axles, U-joints, and differentials.

Other opportunities include less driving (eg. insurance based on miles driven cuts mileage 8% - 'PAYD;' car-pooling - spontaneous and standardized), lower speed limits. Mesilla Valley Transportation averages 8.5 miles/gallon, and limits its trucks to 63 mph. Turnpike doubles, APUs, 50' trailers, raising the truck limit (England allows 110,000 lbs), consolidating shipments via 3rd parties, making products closer to customers, removing water from eg. detergents, and shifting from truck to rail (49% of U.S. freight, with 9% of the freight-sector fuel) are trucking opportunities.

Fuel/airline seat-mile has fallen 82% from 1958 to 2010. Lovins contends that strut-braced wings (longer, lighter, thinner) would offer another 70% fuel-use reduction. Other options include teleconferencing, and more direct routes (SWA) instead of the hub-spoke system.

Lovins sees the potential to save $1.9 trillion in U.S. building energy costs by 2050, at a cost of $0.5 trillion. The Empire State Building is cutting 38% off its energy bills and peak electrical demand by 35% via $106 million in improved windows and insulation, plus equipment retrofits.

Options for commercial and residential energy savings include windows that darken in response to a small electric current or heat (Pleotint, Ravenbrick), windows using a printable liquid-crystal coating to vary the amount of incoming heat energy (Serious Energy's 'AdaptivE'), enhanced evaporative cooling that dries incoming air (DEVap) - shaves 50 - 90% off the energy used by traditional AC in even humid areas (Advantix Systems, Trane), silica-based insulating gels (R-40 with only an inch of covering) that have recently become more affordable (Proctor Group, Aspen Aerogels), LEDs, OLED screens, efficient rotors (eg. PAX Scientific), pots that stay flat when heated on a stove.

Joe Romm and Paul Krugman add some interesting points regarding solar power. In most applications, it competes with retail prices, not the far lower wholesale prices because it is hooked up on a roof and plugged directly into the grid - avoiding expensive transmission. Costs are declining are 7%/year. They too believe we are, or at least should be, on the cusp of an energy transformation - and that's not even taking into account estimates of the rapidly rising estimates of the external costs of carbon-fueled power.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Research and Read Jan. 3 2012
By Bob Vanourek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Finally, an objective look at critical issues that have become too political. Whether you are a global-warming zealot or skeptic, this book is an important contribution to what we might do and what we should do for a better future.
Clearly laid out, easy to read, great graphics, and most persuasive arguments.
Lovins and the staff at RMI have made a huge contribution to an important topic.
The subtitle says it all: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era.
Not a doom-and-gloom or here-is-how-we-must-all-sacrifice tome, this book lays out how global business and the unbounded creativity of people can address a critical issue with a win-win for everyone.
Now all we need is the leadership from business, government, and all of us to get it done.
Nice work, RMI.
I will recommend this book to many friends.
(BTW, I have no affiliation with RMI.)
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable & Recommended For the Public and A Great Reference for Professionals Jan. 28 2012
By Rob Wilcox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Amory Lovins is the most rigorous and accomplished energy economist in the world. His original work, ridiculed at the time by the energy industry, has since been embraced and implemented by that very same industry, worldwide.

His new book, Reinventing Fire, covers energy systems: fuels and electricity and energy uses: vehicles, buildings and industry.

Each section presents the considerable data as a series of well designed charts, explanations and up to date anecdotal success stories of improved energy efficiency, real world examples proving the possible. His forecasts show how adoption of those improvements can impact energy use until 2050.

The text is readable by the non-specialists and would even make an excellent textbook for older high school students through graduate school. For energy professionals, the anecdotes are backed by over 750 footnotes and 37 pages of references. It's a distillation of many years of research at the Rocky Mountain Institute, the consulting practice of Lovins and his team. The references extend to 2011.

For specialists, Lovins graphs will become industry standard references. The anecdotes can form a powerful narrative to work into presentations.

For the public, the book provides a fact-based explanation of our current and potential future utilization of energy, backed by original sources. It would be well to be read by the press, and can provide a fact checking reference - a critical need today.

This book is a critical reference, and a clear, readable roadmap to one energy future, by the foremost expert in the field and his research team.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Guy - Remarkable Book Jan. 4 2012
By Chuck in Sedona - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Amory Lovins is a remarkable guy. Lovins became interested in energy policy about four decades ago, when he was the youngest Oxford Don in several centuries. Today, he is a widely recognized global authority on energy as it relates to the economy, national security, development and the environment. He actively pursues that interest as lead scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a "think-and-do tank". Lovins' extraordinary new book, Reinventing Fire, brings fresh and much needed actionable insight to an important and timely subject.

To refer to Reinventing Fire as a "book" is understatement. More correctly, it is a comprehensive, extensively documented, peer reviewed research document which provides a visionary national energy strategy, presented in a quite readable format suitable for anyone from undergraduate to global business or political leader.

Succinctly, Reinventing Fire insists that the United States can realistically stop using coal and petroleum as fuel by the year 2050, by transition to efficient energy utilization and by substitution of renewable energy sources, even as the U.S. economy continues to grow at presently projected rates. Further, Reinventing Fire demonstrates that this can be done by business, using currently available technologies, employed at normal rates of financial return. Government could help through policy shifts that relieve some of the existing barriers to implementing innovations. Beyond that, no Acts of Congress are required, no new energy or carbon taxes or subsidies are needed. Instead, the projected net cost for pursuing this course over four decades is $5 trillion (in 2010 net present value) less than the cost of continuing on our current path!

Reinventing Fire focuses on the four sections of the economy that consume the great bulk of the fossil fuel: industry, transportation, buildings and electric power generation. The book projects industrial energy consumption reductions of almost 50% (44.4 quads in 2010, down to 22.3 quads in 2050, where a quad = Quadrillion BTUs/year), while industrial output increases by 84% during the same period.

This is not smoke and mirrors. The `how to" is spelled out in a thoroughly transparent manner. The detail available is voluminous, mostly through hundreds of credible references. Beyond the book, even more information is available on a dedicated website.
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