Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era Amory B Lovins and Rocky Mountain Institute
White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011
Reinventing Fire makes the business case for a new, cleaner energy regimen. It's all about
How you can win by eliminating your energy operating costs - before your competitors do...
What is most interesting to me is that RMI projects the US as needing 150 quadrillion BTU by 2050 while most other energy forecasts see 300 quads or more. As Amory Lovins was correct in a similar projection back in the 1970s, a 100 quad economy in the US by 2000, which is around where we still are, rather than the 200 quad and better economies the usual suspects were graphing, I suspect his crystal ball is clearer.
Secondarily, many of the suggestions for energy savings and higher efficiencies that Lovins and the RMI team advise use present technologies. There is a great deal that can be done with diligence and a recognition of systems efficiencies (exergy, exergy, exergy) if ever we decide to do it.
Making these energy changes - and thus getting the needed emissions reductions - quickly enough is a challenge. But it is manageable, just as it was in 1977-1985 when U.S. oil intensity fell 5.2% per year. Today, based on standard economic-growth and decarbonization forecasts, cutting global energy intensity (primary energy used per dollar of real GDP) by about 3-4% a year, versus the historic 1%, could more than offset net carbon growth and rapidly abate further climate damage. This looks feasible. The U. S. has long achieved annual intensity reduction s of 2-4% without national focus or concerted effort, while China achieved more than 5% for a quarter century through 2001 and 405% in the past few years. Some firms have even achieved 6-16%. So why should 3-4% be hard - especially when most of the growth is in countries like China and India that can make their new infrastructure efficient the first time rather than fixing it later as we must do? And since virtually everyone who does energy efficiency makes money at it, why should this be costly?
Sustained effort pays off. Using figures from before the Great Recession of the late 2000s to avoid distortions, in 1990-2006. California shrank greenhouse-gas emissions per dollar of GDP by 30%. IN 1980-2006, Denmark shrank its energy intensity 39% and its carbon intensity 50%, made its electricity 28% renewable and three-fourths micropower, and created a world-class renewables industry. Now it's heading for 100% renewable energy to enhance its economy and security.
I also like the way the book is organized with four sections that focus on major portions of the economy. Each one is analyzed in terms of
Business Sector Profit
Policy: no regrets, opportunistic, and innovative
Infographic that hits the main points
Transportation: by 2050, three fourths less fuel and lifecycle costs in all vehicles while providing 90% more auto, 118% more truck, and 61% more airplane miles.
Policy suggestions for vehicle makers and suppliers, fuel providers, fleet and private vehicle owners and operators, government and ngos
Buildings: by 2050, use 54%-69% less (38% using presently available techniques), 16-31% from integrative design while providing a 70% larger building stock.
Policy suggestions for owners, investors, and users; utilities, service providers, and product suppliers, government and ngos
Industry (Manufacturing): by 2050, save 27% of primary energy used (beyond savings already forecast) with presently known technology, other savings through
integrative design, even more with possible new materials.
Policy suggestions for customers, plant owners and managers, government and ngos
Electricity: By 2050, 80% of US energy from renewables, on road to possible 100%, eliminating fossil fuels.
Policy suggestions for individual customers, non-utility businesses, utilities, regulators [government and ngos]