Inside American Renewable Energy Day

Did you ever think you would find T. Boone Pickens, Chevy Chase and Ted Turner in the same room? The 8th Annual American Renewable Energy Day (AREDAY) brought a diverse group to Aspen last week for a cross-sector dialogue on renewable energy and clean technology. On Saturday morning, a keynote speech by Amory Lovins gave the audience a sneak peek at Reinventing Fire, due late October.

According to Lovins, Reinventing Fire is a story about two stories: Oil and electricity.

“We find that solving these two big problems together is easier and less costly than solving them separately,” he said.

The Oil Story: Putting our cars (then trucks and planes) on a diet

America’s addiction to oil—most of which is used to fuel transportation—costs us $2 billion per day, with even greater costs to economic competitiveness, the environment, and human health. Considering autos use three-fifths of mobility fuel, making cars oil free is critical.

“It’s time to reverse the auto obesity epidemic,” said Lovins, “because our cars have gained weight faster than we have. It’s time to put our autos on a diet.”

Vehicle fitness opens a new competitive strategy by making electrification affordable. Automakers who realize this early can capture market share and realize “Moore’s law driven gains.”

The Coal Story: Saving Electricity and Making it Differently

In the electricity sector, we’re seeing 21st century tech and speed colliding with 20th and 19th century cultures and rules.

“Renewable power is the biggest infrastructure shift in history that continues to gain momentum,” said Lovins. “But we are losing the clean energy race to China, even though we invented it.”

By making our buildings dramatically more efficient more affordably through integrative design (as explained in a Thursday conversation between Lovins and Tony Malkin highlighting “disruptive innovation” and the Empire State Building), and cutting waste in U.S. factories (which uses three-fifths of U.S. electricity to run everything from motors to fans to pumps), we can dramatically reduce our demand for electricity.

Then, by tapping in to the global shift toward renewables we can realize a low-carbon electric system by 2050.

Pulling it all Together

Reinventing Fire weaves together the oil and coal stories, laying out a credible path to a U.S. economy free of both by 2050. America’s businesses can lead this transition, and compete for a $5 trillion net prize.

“Our energy future is not fate, but choice,” said Lovins. “If you are in business, you can grasp these opportunities.”

Watch Amory interviewed live at the Summit here.