50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
Lovins opens with a hopeful note - that the 'tipping point,' where alternatives work better than oil and coal-fired energy, is here. Unfortunately, since he wrote that the price of natural gas has fallen greatly, and that is not the case. Transition, per Lovins, will cost $5 trillion LESS than business-as-usual, and will require no new federal taxes or subsidies. Improved...
Published on November 12, 2011 by Loyd E. Eskildson
110 of 125 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not for Kindle
Amory Lovins is a genius, and RMI is a really great outfit. This is a good and extremely important book, but the Kindle edition is unreadable. RMI's insistence on using sidebars on practically every page, and the Kindle format's attempt to integrate the sidebars into the text render the Kindle edition disjointed to the point of unintelligibility. Get it on paper...
Published 23 months ago by Alan Petrillo
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110 of 125 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but not for Kindle,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Kindle Edition)Amory Lovins is a genius, and RMI is a really great outfit. This is a good and extremely important book, but the Kindle edition is unreadable. RMI's insistence on using sidebars on practically every page, and the Kindle format's attempt to integrate the sidebars into the text render the Kindle edition disjointed to the point of unintelligibility. Get it on paper. Don't bother with the Kindle edition.
50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)Lovins opens with a hopeful note - that the 'tipping point,' where alternatives work better than oil and coal-fired energy, is here. Unfortunately, since he wrote that the price of natural gas has fallen greatly, and that is not the case. Transition, per Lovins, will cost $5 trillion LESS than business-as-usual, and will require no new federal taxes or subsidies. Improved efficiency is the primary driver, with new renewable sources the secondary, contrary to former V.P. Cheney's stating that conservation is simply a "sign of personal virtue" and that relying on renewables would threaten "our way of life."
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.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Research and Read,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)Finally, an objective look at critical issues that have become too political. Whether you are a global-warming zealot or skeptic, this book is an important contribution to what we might do and what we should do for a better future.
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.)
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Readable & Recommended For the Public and A Great Reference for Professionals,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)Amory Lovins is the most rigorous and accomplished energy economist in the world. His original work, ridiculed at the time by the energy industry, has since been embraced and implemented by that very same industry, worldwide.
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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Guy - Remarkable Book,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)Amory Lovins is a remarkable guy. Lovins became interested in energy policy about four decades ago, when he was the youngest Oxford Don in several centuries. Today, he is a widely recognized global authority on energy as it relates to the economy, national security, development and the environment. He actively pursues that interest as lead scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a "think-and-do tank". Lovins' extraordinary new book, Reinventing Fire, brings fresh and much needed actionable insight to an important and timely subject.
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.
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid the Kindle version,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)The Kindle version is a disaster. Consider the following
* Dictionary does not work
* Hotlinks and footnotes do not function either .. simply unavailable
* Many missing graphs and photos
* Text size varies from page to page and even within a screenshot
Amory Lovins is great so if you want the value of this book buy the print version.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions For The New Energy Era,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Kindle Edition)I cannot even remember how I came across this book. But I am glad I did. It is the most informative, thoroughly researched book on the topic I have yet found. Not based on one point of view, it explores various options and paths we can take into the next forty years along with their likely outcomes. Using only technologies that are now available, the physicist Amory B Lovins and his team at the Rocky Mountain Institute, show how embracing alternative energy options can not only be good for the planet but also good for business. It makes good economic sense.
Several areas of our daily lives are considered one by one - fuels, transport, buildings, industry and electricity generation. Each section explores options with good visuals to illustrate the various elements that could be affected. Current options already being used are given with their results. Good links to the plethora of companies and initiatives that are involved in this change are noted. Follow up study on these is just the beginning of a continuing conversation. With the Rocky Mountain Institute's involvement in this area for over thirty years, there have been many useful contacts made over the years. The team is held in high regard throughout the world.
Suddenly the future looks significantly brighter. There are many options out there. Many more people just need to know about them. This is a great start.
For those who rated the Kindle edition of this book poorly, I would like to give some feedback.
The graphics are best viewed on the Kindle for PC or similar. But the text is readily accessible in the usual Kindle platform. There was no problem when using this. And both versions can be accessed when buying the Kindle product. It is still my preference in immediately accessing information I have decided I want to see now.
Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long read but well worth it,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)Much more technical and thorough than a casual reader but not as dry as a text book. Also, although I have no background in engineering or science, I still found the technical and detailed discussions interesting and easy enough to understand.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid book on energy,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)the authors discuss the path forward toward an oil free future. The book is not a quick read, but full of information and very carefully done estimates. If you are interesting in finding out what is possible - based on facts and solid estimates, the I would recommend the book highly. If you want an easy read, where you can skim through the pages, then this book is probably not for you. Excellent and intriguing reading.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concrete methods (with examples) to greatly improve business competitiveness via energy efficient designs and processes,
This review is from: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era (Hardcover)This book, with many concrete examples, shows we can reduce energy usage by huge amounts; 30% to 90% using current technology. In many cases, implementing such technology actually costs less than "we've always done it that way". In cases where it costs more, the payback time is often measured in a very few years. It shows clearly that businesses (and countries) that implement applicable ideas from the many presented will have a major competitive advantage over those that don't.
Example: Retrofits to Empire State Building: It was already being remodeled and upgraded. It was found that by spending an additional 13 million, energy savings of 38% and electricity savings of 35% could be achieved paying back the 13 million in just 3 years. These changes also improved tenant comfort.
The jobs that could be created world wide doing such upgrades would be enormous. The payback times very short. The improvement in profit margins for businesses are enormous because energy savings of $1 add directly to profit. If you have a 5% profit margin, you'd have to sell $20 of product to get the same $1. The same applies to government at every level.
The beauty of this book is that even the most die-hard climate change/peak oil denying person can find enormous incentives to implement the concepts described because of the incredible positive impact it will have on their bottom line. It also shows how countries implementing alternative energy sources can improve their energy security and competitive advantage.
The downside of reading the book: You will want to tear your hair out at the collective stupidity of those saying implementing these ideas will wreck our economy.
It also gives overwhelming proof that those who say "we've got to wait for technology break throughs" are wrong.
Shareholders should require their CEO's to read and report how they'll implement ideas from the book. It should be required reading for all executives in government at all levels. And congress, well, one can only hope some of them will read it.
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Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era by Amory B. Lovins (Hardcover - October 15, 2011)