Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era
Imagine fuel without fear. No climate change. No oil spills, no dead coalminers, no dirty air, no devastated lands, no lost wildlife. No energy poverty. No oil-fed wars, tyrannies, or terrorists. No leaking nuclear wastes or spreading nuclear weapons. Nothing to run out. Nothing to cut off. Nothing to worry about. Just energy abundance, benign and affordable, for all, forever.
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This visually stunning book is filled with illustrations that go beyond the partisan politics of our day. People in Washington DC and governments in Europe are filled with lawyers and accountants who never took science. They tell us we have to compromise our lifestyle if we want to prevent climate catastrophe. (It would certainly be worth it!) And they tell us we have to chose between different dirty 50 year old technologies to make energy. Not true! Innovation works, and we have never gotten out of an energy caused economic downturn without changing our energy supply.
This book shows how the US can get off coal, oil and old-nuclear while saving 5 Trillion Dollars in expense on energy and infrastructure, by making a series of investments with a 3 to 5 year return on investment. Investments that pay for themselves that fast are things you should do anyway-- your accountant will tell you so-- regardless of whether you are saving the planet.
Best of all, the Government needn't lift a tentacle. Business will do this because it saves money.
We don't need regulations. We do need business to make sensable investments with a 3-5 year ROI.
One of the main lessons is what Lovins calls Integrative design. What he is really talking about is the compounding effect on a supply chain of efficiency. Imagine you have a product with a supply chain 10 steps long. (Fairly typical.) All the factories in that chain were designed before computers and power electronics made energy efficiency easy. So it is pretty straightforward to make each link in that chain 30% cheaper. That doesn't make the end product 30% cheaper because it multiplies at each stage. It makes the end product 13 times cheaper!
Recently the Chinese have started making solar panels at $1.20/Watt. A few years ago it was much more. This is a classic example of what is possible by taking control of the whole supply chain and working down costs at each stage. It makes now a great time to be installing Solar, because at that price it pays for itself in around 5 years in most places. Who wouldn't want to own a money making machine that pays for itself in 5 years?
The one problem I see with this is that most US Businesses are acting more like crack-heads than rational planners who take their fiduciary responsibility seriously. Wall Street rewards companies who make the desired quarterly numbers. Wall street punishes companies that make an investment that doesn't pay off in the current quarter. With that mentality, China wins! (Because Chinese companies make 5 year plans and mostly stick to them.)
So if American companies can start acting like grown-ups who make good 5 year plans and execute them, we can get off of Coal and Oil, and be 5 Trillion dollars richer before our increased productivity makes us richer still.