Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era Hardcover – Oct 15 2011
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Author Lovins, a government consultant on energy, is co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent think-tank on the use of natural resources. In this color illustrated book for business leaders and others, Lovins predicts that if businesses start now to adopt currently available alternative energy technologies at normal rates of return, the US can realistically stop using oil and coal by 2050, for a savings of $5 trillion. The author argues that because the necessary legislation and public policy are already in place for the transition to clean power, the transition can come about through market-based innovation across many different industries. After explaining the true costs of oil and coal, the book focuses on transportation, building design, improvements in industry energy efficiency, and carbon-free electricity generation. The book's reader-friendly layout includes color photos, charts, and case and example boxes on every page, combined with an accessible writing style. While the contributors are all affiliated with Rocky Mountain Institute, the book's content has been reviewed by outside experts as well. A web site offers supporting methodological and technical material.
Energy forms the basis of modern living and is tied to every country's economic, political, social, health, and environmental policies. This well-documented work by energy expert Lovins (cofounder, Rocky Mountain Institute) and RMI staff begins by discussing the growing economic and environmental impact of fossil fuel dependence. Next, separate chapters address four different energy-intensive sectors in the US: transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. Each chapter includes data on current energy consumption along with ways to change existing patterns (e.g., new designs, renewable sources, more-efficient practices). The concluding chapter ‘Many Choices, One Future,’ looks at the US in 2050: shortened workdays, decreased road traffic, a cleaner atmosphere, and a huge amount of capital formerly wasted on fossil fuels available to address various social challenges. This assumes that the path charted in ‘Reinventing Fire’ is at work. The authors argue that their proposal is economically feasible and would create jobs, positively impact the environment, and enhance the global competitiveness of the US. Among the barriers listed, the resistance of political incumbents and an absence of visionary political leaders committed to these fundamental changes stand out. A must read for anyone who deals with energy, especially decision makers. Summing up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals; general readers.
Reinventing Fire is an engaging and comprehensive introduction to the issues and challenges tied to our nation's energy use. Amory Lovins is a noted authority on energy—especially its efficient use and sustainable supply. In 2009, Time named him among the world's 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. In 1982, Lovins co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an independent, nonprofit think tank focused on the ‘efficient and restorative use of resources.’ The team's expertise is evident, as Lovins and fellow RMI researchers outline the current state of energy use, including what they call the nation's .addiction to fossil fuels,. and propose an array of transformational solutions. Their long-term view emphasizes smart business strategy over public policy as the route to the ‘new energy era.’ The ‘winners’ in this new era will be those companies, organizations—and even nations—nimble and innovative enough to anticipate and realize the opportunities. Following a review of our energy profile today, the book sets the stage with two contrasting scenarios for energy consumption in 2050, one that is ‘business as usual’ and one that ‘reinvents fire.’ The optimal scenario would reduce overall energy consumption through innovation and efficiency, while increasing use of renewable sources and bringing a multitude of benefits—to the economy and the environment, as well as to our health and national security. The challenges posed by this book are at once inspirational and daunting, but Reinventing Fire makes it clear that facing them with passion and ingenuity is essential to our future prosperity as a people and a nation.
.Amory and his 'reinventing fire' energy path should be part of the induction packs for all political, financial and business leaders..--John Elkington, The Guardian
Reinventing Fire shows us that we neither need to freeze in the dark, nor go back to the Stone Age, to ensure a healthy, habitable planet for ourselves and our descendants.--Andy Kerr, Home Power
.In crisp and vivid language, Amory Lovins sets out a blueprint for a much-improved future in the generation and use of energy. We can all learn from reading this clear statement from a real expert..--George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury, distinguished fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, former president of Bechtel
.My friend Amory Lovins knows that the most important question of the twenty-first century is the 'how' question-how we turn good ideas into working solutions. Reinventing Fire is a wise, detailed, and comprehensive blueprint for gathering the best existing technologies for energy use and putting them to work right now to create jobs, end our dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels, and unleash the enormous economic potential of the coming energy revolution..--President Bill Clinton
.If you wanted to bring America happiness and prosperity, and address unemployment, government gridlock and climate change, and create meaning in a world rife with contradictory views and ideologies, you can do one thing: read Reinventing Fire...and then see to it that it is read by every decision maker in the land. This is a stunning work of enormous dimension. Reinventing Fire outlines an eminently practical path to a durable and meaningful future by reimagining how we use and produce the lifeblood of civilization-energy in its myriad forms..--Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest; co-author, Natural Capitalism
.Amory Lovins and his team of extraordinary professionals provide an analytically sound, detailed, compelling plan for transforming our national use of energy-and for saving $5 trillion in the process! Reinventing Fire is a towering work, a page-turning tour de force of compelling wisdom that deserves a permanent place on the desk-nay, in the mind-of whoever holds the chair in the Oval Office..--Robert C. McFarlane, national security advisor to President Reagan; co-founder and co-chair of the United States Energy Security Council
.America's business leaders have long waited for a practical vision of how innovation and entrepreneurship can drive the shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Now, in Reinventing Fire, that profit-led path is here, clear, and compelling..--Gerald D. Hines, founder and chairman, Hines
.Reinventing Fire crackles with fresh perspectives and compelling insights about our energy past, present, and future. Drawing on the logic of economics, physics, geology, national security, and just plain common sense, Lovins and his colleagues blaze a trail toward an energy future that is cleaner, cheaper, and safer. A 'must read' book for business leaders, policymakers, environmentalists, academics, and anyone else who cares about our planet's future and our nation's prosperity..--Dan Esty, Director, Center for Business and the Environment at Yale University, and author of Green to Gold
.A compelling call for action. From one of the brightest and most practical thinkers in America-straight from the heart, bold advice to America on how to handle energy, reduce the budget deficit, and create millions of jobs. Amory Lovins has written the definitive prescription for the twenty-first century American economy. Take these prescriptions on energy, and the rest of America will do quite nicely in the years ahead. Ignore these recommendations, and we'll find ourselves in a darkening struggle for our prosperity, our future, and our way of life..--Retired General Wesley K. Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
.A must-read 'new baseline' analysis for innovators and policy makers..--Bill Joy, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; co-founder, Sun Microsystems
.A brilliant, thorough, innovative plan for a complete and profitable restructuring over the next four decades of how we use and supply energy for transport, electricity, buildings, and industry. RMI's new fire will transform everything we do, and will especially help us see our way out of the massive problems caused by our dependence on oil and coal..--R. James Woolsey, venture partner, Lux Capital; former director of Central Intelligence; chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
About the Author
Amory Lovins, a consultant physicist, is among the world's leading experts in energy and its links with resources, security, development, and environment. He has advised the energy and other industries for four decades as well as the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense. His work in 50+ countries has been recognized by the "Alternative Nobel," Blue Planet, Volvo, Zayed Future Energy (Runner-Up), Onassis, Nissan, Shingo, Goff Smith, and Mitchell Prizes, the Benjamin Franklin and Happold Medals, MacArthur and Ashoka Fellowships, 11 honorary doctorates, honorary membership of the American Institute of Architects, Foreign Membership of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, honorary Senior Fellowship of the Design Futures Council, and the Heinz, Lindbergh, Jean Meyer, Time Hero for the Planet, Time International Hero of the Environment, Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Leadership, National Design, and World Technology Awards.
A Harvard and Oxford dropout and for
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.)
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.
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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