OCS_ReinventingFire_Physics_Markets_Energy_Solutions_2014.pdf

OCS_ReinventingFire_Physics_Markets_Energy_Solutions_2014.pdf

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Reinventing Fire: Physics + Markets = Energy Solutions Amory B. Lovins a a Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2317 Snowmass Creek Road, Snowmass CO 81654, , [email protected] At Rocky Mountain Institute, we’re practitioners, not theorists. We do solutions, not problems. We do transformation, not incrementalism. So in 2009–11, 60 colleagues and I, with much help from industry on both content and peer review, created a detailed, rigorous, well-documented, and transparent “grand synthesis” of a pragmatic, market-driven, business-led energy solution for the United States. 1 Our findings seem relevant to many other societies, and are currently being adapted and replicated with three distinguished partner organizations to inform China’s 13 th Five Year Plan in 2015. 2 America’s peculiar public energy conversation, if clearly stated, would boil down to this multiple- choice question: Would you rather die of (a) oil wars, (b) climate change, (c) nuclear holocaust, or (d) all of the above? Or would you prefer the choice we’re seldom offered: (e) none of the above? What if we could make energy do our work without working our undoing? Could we imagine fuel without fear? Could we…reinvent fire? Fire made us human. Fossil fuels made us modern. But now we need a new fire that makes us safe, secure, healthy, and durable. That has now become possible. In fact, it works better and costs less than what we have been doing. Let’s see how. Four-fifths of the world’s energy still comes from burning every year about 19 cubic kilometers of the rotted remains of primeval swamp goo, extracted and delivered with immense skill. Those fossil fuels have built our civilization, created our wealth, and enriched the lives of billions. But their rising costs to our security, economy, health, and environment are eroding if not outweighing their benefits—so we need a new fire. Switching from the old fire to the new fire changes two big stories: oil and electricity. Each puts about two-fifths of the fossil carbon into the air, but they’re quite distinct. Less than 1% of U.S. electricity comes from oil, vs. two-fifths from coal. Yet the uses are of oil and electricity similarly concentrated. Three-fourths of our oil fuels vehicles, three-fourths of our electricity runs buildings, and the rest of both runs factories. So very efficient transport, buildings, and factories can save oil and coal, as well as natural gas that can displace both. Today’s energy system is not only inefficient; it’s also disconnected, aging, dirty, and insecure, so it needs refurbishment. But by 2050, it could become efficient, connected, and distributed, with elegantly frugal autos, factories and buildings all relying on a secure, modern, and resilient energy system. Thus we can eliminate our addiction to oil and coal by 2050 and use one-third less natural gas while switching to efficient use and renewable supplies.
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