Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era

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Chelsea Green Publishing, Oct 15, 2011 - Business & Economics - 352 pages
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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.

That richer, fairer, cooler, safer world is possible, practical, even profitable-because saving and replacing fossil fuels now works better and costs no more than buying and burning them. Reinventing Fire shows how business-motivated by profit, supported by civil society, sped by smart policy-can get the US completely off oil and coal by 2050, and later beyond natural gas as well.

Authored by a world leader on energy and innovation, the book maps a robust path for integrating real, here-and-now, comprehensive energy solutions in four industries-transportation, buildings, electricity, and manufacturing-melding radically efficient energy use with reliable, secure, renewable energy supplies.Popular in tone and rooted in applied hope, Reinventing Fire shows how smart businesses are creating a potent, global, market-driven, and explosively growing movement to defossilize fuels. It points readers to trillions in savings over the next 40 years, and trillions more in new business opportunities.Whether you care most about national security, or jobs and competitive advantage, or climate and environment, this major contribution by world leaders in energy innovation offers startling innovations will support your values, inspire your support, and transform your sense of possibility.Pragmatic citizens today are more interested in outcomes than motives. Reinventing Fire answers this trans-ideological call. Whether you care most about national security, or jobs and competitive advantage, or climate and environment, its startling innovations will support your values, inspire your support, and transform your sense of possibility.


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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.


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about the authors
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About the author (2011)

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 former Oxford don, he has briefed 20 heads of state and advises major firms and governments worldwide, recently including the leadership of Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, Ford, Holcim, Interface, and Wal-Mart. He cofounded in 1982 and serves as Chairman and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent, market-oriented, entrepreneurial, nonprofit, nonpartisan think-and-do tank that creates abundance by design. His most recent visiting academic chair was in spring 2007 as MAP/Ming Professor in Stanford's School of Engineering, offering the University's first course on advanced energy efficiency ( The latest of his 30 books is Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era. An anthology from his 1968-2010 work, The Essential Amory Lovins, was released in 2011. He is also the co-author of the sustainable business classic, Natural Capitalism. In 2009, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers.

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