Energy Initiative Event: Amory Lovins Talk

On Friday November 7th, members of the Duke Energy Club attended a talk given by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute ( Lovins is the Co-founder and Chief Scientist at RMI and has worked extensively as an expert consultant for companies, heads of state, and national organizations. A true polymath, he has also delivered thousands of lectures and published 31 books, including books on poetry, landscape, photography, and music.

Lovins’ talk focused on his recent book “Reinventing Fire: Business Solutions for a New Energy Era.” The talk started with a thought-provoking description of the public energy conversations in the US today:

“America’s public energy conversation boils down to this question: Would you rather die of A) oil wars, or B) climate change, or C) nuclear holocaust, or D) all of the above? Oh, I missed one: E) none of the above? That’s the one we’re not normally offered.

What if we could make energy do our work without working our undoing? Could we have fuel without fear? Could we reinvent fire?

You see, fire made us human; fossil fuels made us modern. But now we need a new fire that makes us safe, secure, healthy and durable.”

From there, Lovins outlined his plan for reinventing fire and weaning off “the rotted remains of primeval swamp goo” that still powers 90% of the world’s energy, while at the same time, saving $5 trillion, by 2050.

Far from a far-fetched plan, Lovins assumes no act of congress or new inventions. He argues that simply through private enterprise combined with local civil society and military innovation we can reach this goal and make money doing it. Or in Lovin’s words:

“I’m going to tell you how to get the United States completely off oil and coal, five trillion dollars cheaper with no act of Congress led by business for profit.”

The boldness of this statement could not be overstated, yet his plan is surprisingly simple. Which is a good sign that he’s on to something. So what does his plan look like?

Lovins’ plan draws on four kinds of innovation: technology, design, business strategy, and policy to shake up the four sectors that use energy—transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. He then goes through each sector explaining the improvements that can be made. His vision is fascinating and he truly is acting the composer of a symphony of solutions that can help launch us into a new energy age.

Our members thoroughly enjoyed the talk and we’d highly recommend you check out Amory Lovins’ writing at the links below.

Lovins gave a similar speech for TED, which can be found here:

For more information on his book:

RMI Blog:


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