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Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era Paperback – October 7, 2013
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Book News- Author Lovins, a government consultant on energy, is co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent think-tank on the use of natural resources. In this color illustrated book for business leaders and others, Lovins predicts that if businesses start now to adopt currently available alternative energy technologies at normal rates of return, the US can realistically stop using oil and coal by 2050, for a savings of $5 trillion. The author argues that because the necessary legislation and public policy are already in place for the transition to clean power, the transition can come about through market-based innovation across many different industries. After explaining the true costs of oil and coal, the book focuses on transportation, building design, improvements in industry energy efficiency, and carbon-free electricity generation. The book's reader-friendly layout includes color photos, charts, and case and example boxes on every page, combined with an accessible writing style. While the contributors are all affiliated with Rocky Mountain Institute, the book's content has been reviewed by outside experts as well. A web site offers supporting methodological and technical material.
Choice- Energy forms the basis of modern living and is tied to every country's economic, political, social, health, and environmental policies. This well-documented work by energy expert Lovins (cofounder, Rocky Mountain Institute) and RMI staff begins by discussing the growing economic and environmental impact of fossil fuel dependence. Next, separate chapters address four different energy-intensive sectors in the US: transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. Each chapter includes data on current energy consumption along with ways to change existing patterns (e.g., new designs, renewable sources, more-efficient practices). The concluding chapter ‘Many Choices, One Future,’ looks at the US in 2050: shortened workdays, decreased road traffic, a cleaner atmosphere, and a huge amount of capital formerly wasted on fossil fuels available to address various social challenges. This assumes that the path charted in ‘Reinventing Fire’ is at work. The authors argue that their proposal is economically feasible and would create jobs, positively impact the environment, and enhance the global competitiveness of the US. Among the barriers listed, the resistance of political incumbents and an absence of visionary political leaders committed to these fundamental changes stand out. A must read for anyone who deals with energy, especially decision makers. Summing up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals; general readers.
ForeWord Reviews- Reinventing Fire is an engaging and comprehensive introduction to the issues and challenges tied to our nation's energy use. Amory Lovins is a noted authority on energy―especially its efficient use and sustainable supply. In 2009, Time named him among the world's 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. In 1982, Lovins co-founded the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an independent, nonprofit think tank focused on the ‘efficient and restorative use of resources.’ The team's expertise is evident, as Lovins and fellow RMI researchers outline the current state of energy use, including what they call the nation's "addiction to fossil fuels," and propose an array of transformational solutions. Their long-term view emphasizes smart business strategy over public policy as the route to the ‘new energy era.’ The ‘winners’ in this new era will be those companies, organizations―and even nations―nimble and innovative enough to anticipate and realize the opportunities. Following a review of our energy profile today, the book sets the stage with two contrasting scenarios for energy consumption in 2050, one that is ‘business as usual’ and one that ‘reinvents fire.’ The optimal scenario would reduce overall energy consumption through innovation and efficiency, while increasing use of renewable sources and bringing a multitude of benefits―to the economy and the environment, as well as to our health and national security. The challenges posed by this book are at once inspirational and daunting, but Reinventing Fire makes it clear that facing them with passion and ingenuity is essential to our future prosperity as a people and a nation.
"Amory and his 'reinventing fire' energy path should be part of the induction packs for all political, financial and business leaders."--John Elkington, The Guardian
Reinventing Fire shows us that we neither need to freeze in the dark, nor go back to the Stone Age, to ensure a healthy, habitable planet for ourselves and our descendants.--Andy Kerr, Home Power
"In crisp and vivid language, Amory Lovins sets out a blueprint for a much-improved future in the generation and use of energy. We can all learn from reading this clear statement from a real expert."--George P. Shultz, former Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury, distinguished fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, former president of Bechtel
"My friend Amory Lovins knows that the most important question of the twenty-first century is the 'how' question-how we turn good ideas into working solutions. Reinventing Fire is a wise, detailed, and comprehensive blueprint for gathering the best existing technologies for energy use and putting them to work right now to create jobs, end our dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels, and unleash the enormous economic potential of the coming energy revolution."--President Bill Clinton
"If you wanted to bring America happiness and prosperity, and address unemployment, government gridlock and climate change, and create meaning in a world rife with contradictory views and ideologies, you can do one thing: read Reinventing Fire...and then see to it that it is read by every decision maker in the land. This is a stunning work of enormous dimension. Reinventing Fire outlines an eminently practical path to a durable and meaningful future by reimagining how we use and produce the lifeblood of civilization-energy in its myriad forms."--Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest; co-author, Natural Capitalism
"Amory Lovins and his team of extraordinary professionals provide an analytically sound, detailed, compelling plan for transforming our national use of energy-and for saving $5 trillion in the process! Reinventing Fire is a towering work, a page-turning tour de force of compelling wisdom that deserves a permanent place on the desk-nay, in the mind-of whoever holds the chair in the Oval Office."--Robert C. McFarlane, national security advisor to President Reagan; co-founder and co-chair of the United States Energy Security Council
"America's business leaders have long waited for a practical vision of how innovation and entrepreneurship can drive the shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Now, in Reinventing Fire, that profit-led path is here, clear, and compelling."--Gerald D. Hines, founder and chairman, Hines
"Reinventing Fire crackles with fresh perspectives and compelling insights about our energy past, present, and future. Drawing on the logic of economics, physics, geology, national security, and just plain common sense, Lovins and his colleagues blaze a trail toward an energy future that is cleaner, cheaper, and safer. A 'must read' book for business leaders, policymakers, environmentalists, academics, and anyone else who cares about our planet's future and our nation's prosperity."--Dan Esty, Director, Center for Business and the Environment at Yale University, and author of Green to Gold
"A compelling call for action. From one of the brightest and most practical thinkers in America-straight from the heart, bold advice to America on how to handle energy, reduce the budget deficit, and create millions of jobs. Amory Lovins has written the definitive prescription for the twenty-first century American economy. Take these prescriptions on energy, and the rest of America will do quite nicely in the years ahead. Ignore these recommendations, and we'll find ourselves in a darkening struggle for our prosperity, our future, and our way of life."--Retired General Wesley K. Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
"A must-read 'new baseline' analysis for innovators and policy makers."--Bill Joy, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; co-founder, Sun Microsystems
"A brilliant, thorough, innovative plan for a complete and profitable restructuring over the next four decades of how we use and supply energy for transport, electricity, buildings, and industry. RMI's new fire will transform everything we do, and will especially help us see our way out of the massive problems caused by our dependence on oil and coal."--R. James Woolsey, venture partner, Lux Capital; former director of Central Intelligence; chairman, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
About the Author
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 (www.rmi.org/stanford). 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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Top Customer Reviews
At the same time, it does present a bit of confusion on keeping the scenarios straight as parts of them can conflict with each other and even with the basic tenets of Brittle Power. On the one hand, harnessing large wind farms, on shore or offshore, can be very advantageous BUT on the other hand long runs of transmission are not only very expensive (and the money might be used for more local renewable generation) but if they go hundred if not thousands of miles, they are prone to not just some line losses (even using HVDC) but also any number of threats which would leave those on the distant receiving end possibly in a dire circumstances. How do we reconcile this?
I do not have a good answer but Amory has always been the chief advocate for distributed power systems BUT in Reinventing Fire, some of the scenarios makes a case for this large offshore wind to supply a significant portion of load. This seems in conflict with his distributed generation position requiring short links. Additionally, in other portions of the book, he also advocates SmartGrid technology which makes lightning fast decisions without user input. Many in the cybersecurity realm would voice objection to more SmartGrid as it would increase vulnerabilities by expanding the attack surfaces. All his previous works talk about eliminating cascading failures by maintaining a high degree of user controllability. These need to be reconciled. Granted we do not live in a perfect world where all requirements for secure systems can be economically realized but more thought needs to be put into the more near term cyber threats and not just into the totally game changing climate threats. STILL, this is a book totally worth reading and in the future I look forward to one that adds additional scenarios.
The solutions he proposes are not simplistic, they are as complex as the realities of our world.
And, this is not the work of one fellow, not only does he have the Rocky Mountain Institute behind him, he gets help from a distinguished group of folks from the technical and political/market sides.
It is an ok read, well written, not too much jargon (and helpful in defining for the rest of us insider jargon), but not a page turner unless you feel the subject is exceptionally important. The five stars go to the excellent content. While there are some controversies (i.e. his reliance on natural and "fracked" gas for the bridge fuel -- even my friends in Boulder seem to be going this way) I am urging all serious thinkers in the climate change community to read this.
This book is well-written, well-designed, fascinating, and I consider it a must-read. You will come away from reading it educated, astonished, fascinated, and motivated. I certainly did.