Amory Lovins Lays Out His Clean Energy Plan

Impressive in both its scope and detail, Lovins’ new book lays out a plan for the U.S. to achieve a green energy future by 2050.

| February 28, 2012

  • Amory Lovins
    Amory Lovings has been a leading proponent of a renewable power revolution for four decades.

  • Amory Lovins

For four decades, Amory Lovins has been a leading proponent of a renewable power revolution that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels and usher in an era of energy independence. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his latest book, which describes his vision of how the world can attain a green energy future by 2050. 

Amory B. Lovins is fond of referring to the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he serves as chairman and chief scientist, as a “think and do” tank, and it’s clear that to Lovins the doing is every bit as important as the thinking. Hardly lacking in confidence or ambition, Lovins — in conjunction with his colleagues at the institute — has published Reinventing Fire, his step-by-step blueprint for how to transition to a renewable energy economy by mid-century.

Impressive in both its scope and detail — Lovins discusses everything from how to redesign heavy trucks to make them more fuel efficient to ways to change factory pipes to conserve energy — the book lays out a plan for the U.S. to achieve the following by 2050: cars completely powered by hydrogen fuel cells, electricity, and biofuels; 84 percent of trucks and airplanes running on biomass fuels; 80 percent of the nation’s electricity produced by renewable power; $5 trillion in savings; and an economy that has grown by 158 percent.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360 senior editor Fen Montaigne, Lovins discusses how business and society can pull off this transformation even if the U.S. Congress keeps failing to act, why climate change need not even enter the discussion, and why the oil industry will ultimately forego fossil fuels and jump aboard the green bandwagon. “One system is dying and others are struggling to be born,” says Lovins. “It’s a very exciting time.”

Given that we’re in the midst of what could only be described as a fossil fuel boom, with the discovery of new unconventional sources and new oil sources being found all over the world, how do you speed this transition and get from here to there? 

Well, I’m not sure what boom you’re talking about. When I read the Wall Street Journal, I see a headline a few weeks ago about coal running out of steam.

4/18/2012 12:12:04 PM

a) Reciprocal of quality iof life? Try telling that to the 3rd world villagers who just got their first electricity. (B) Faucets catching fire? Try keeping up: natural CH4 seepage from poorly cased , shallow water wells account for those rare episodes. Fracking has been shown to be safe. [c] Moore's Law? Then you think our technology is limitless? We've stagnated in the search for that better battery for 60 yrs now. When do we concede it won't be found? [d] 4500 Americans gave their lives protecting human rights in Iran & Afghanistan & ensuring American security. Oil has nothing to do with it.

joe Murtaugh
3/2/2012 9:06:12 PM

The amount of fossil fuel use has become a reciprical to quality of life. I know Lovins may not want to admit that the fossil fuel indurstry isn't going to go down with out another few trumped up wars.Have you ever had the gasses from your faucet catch fire? Do you know anything about technology, batteries, and Moore's law? Some people do. Some people know history (and not just from one source) and somepeople are not going to forget. 4,500 soldiers and counting.

3/1/2012 4:20:33 PM

Before forming an opinion on what our energy policy should be, we really ought to accurately define the problem. First we have to recognize that energy usage is a proxy measure of economic health. and economic health is a measure of quality of life (for most of us) More expensive energy means a weaker economy and pooer standardof living....This guy is still praising wind & PV energy just when Britain & Germany are re-thinking their poorly thought out policies on same: they counted on 100% efficiency of wind mills that turned out to run only at 25% of maximum and didn't allow for the expense of maintaining coal-fire plants on stand-by because wind is so unreliable. ..The European grid is under serious assualt due to the German wind mills which produce juice in a boom or bust manner. Not good....Illinois wind mills are preparing to shut down as govt subsidies expire: they just can't compete without parasitizing the tax payers...PV installations take up a lot of space, destroying habitat. Who says the rain forest is any more deserving of our affections than the desert biome? Only hypocrites....The transportation industry just can't accomplish its role with electric power- but not to worry, converting to natural gas is cheap & easy and just as good as liquid fossil fuels and more abundant.


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