Changing the World: Renowned Energy Expert Amory Lovins Speaks at Plymouth State University

September 7th, 2009 by Adam
“A Conversation With Amory Lovins”

PLYMOUTH, N.H.–– The world’s energy usage and dependence on fossil fuels could be reduced drastically through efficiency measures that are currently available, according to world-renowned energy efficiency expert Amory Lovins.

Lovins, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute and one of Time magazine’s 2009’s 100 most influential people in the world, spoke September 1 at Plymouth State University, where he received a honorary doctorate degree of science. Lovins claims the world’s dependence on fossil fuels is the crux of many political, climate and economic problems, and innovative technologies and business strategies currently available can be implemented to achieve a vastly improved quality of life within three decades.

“We have a long way to go,” Lovins said. “But it’s cheaper to save fuel than to buy fuel; efficiency is cheaper than fuel, so actually we should be talking about profits, jobs and competitive advantage, which makes the politics a lot easier.”

Lovins noted many multi-national corporations are already saving billions of dollars through energy efficiency, which also reduces pollution from greenhouse gas emissions. Lovins asserts that the United States can wean itself from oil by 2040, led by businesses seeking profits.

“We’ve already doubled the efficiency of oil since 1975, and it turns out we can double it again with an average cost of $12 per saved barrel. We can replace about 3/5 of the oil with natural gas and 2/5 advanced bio fuels that don’t have anything to do with the food system.”

Lovins also says we can triple the efficiency of cars, trucks and airplanes by using ultra-light carbon fiber materials and smaller, lighter engines. As an example, Lovins says in most of today’s passenger cars, only three-tenths of one percent of the total energy needed to move the vehicle is used to transport the passenger.

“Three-quarters of what it takes to move the car is caused by its weight, and every unit of energy you save at the wheel saves another seven that you don’t need to waste getting it to the wheels, so there’s enormous leverage in making the car radically lighter weight, whether through metal or composite solutions.”

Lovins said electric energy efficiency is rapidly advancing in the U.S., but there is plenty of room for improvement.

“70 percent of electricity produced in the U.S. is used by buildings, 30 percent is used by industry, and three-quarters of that is wasted,” Lovins said.

Lovins emphasizes alternative energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal and small hydro power, while optimizing energy efficient construction, which uses a fraction of the energy for heating and cooling.

Lovins also believes that a comprehensive global energy strategy, based on efficiency technology, could eliminate the need for nuclear power, which, in turn, would reduce opportunities and incentives for nuclear proliferation that threaten world peace.

Lovins is a MacArthur Fellowship recipient (1993), and author and co-author of dozens of books on energy efficiency, renewable energy, resources, climate, security, business, and other topics.

Lovins has an unparalleled record of planning for the efficient use of diverse and renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, biofuels, and geothermal. He has led the redesign of over $30 billion worth of facilities in 29 sectors for energy and resource efficiency. He has briefed 20 heads of state, advised the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, and consulted for scores of industries and governments worldwide.

According to www.RMI.org, Lovins’ organization, the Rocky Mountain Institute, is a world-renowned organization whose mission is to drive the efficient and restorative use of resources. RMI’s style is nonadversarial and transideological, emphasizing integrative design, advanced technologies, and mindful markets.

For more information contact Christopher M. Williams, director of public relations, at cwilliams@plymouth.edu or (603) 535-2476.

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