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Amory Lovins

Cofounder and Chairman Emeritus
  • Strategic Analysis and Engagement

Physicist Amory Lovins (1947– ) is Cofounder (1982) and Chairman Emeritus of Rocky Mountain Institute, which he served as Chief Scientist 2007–19 and now supports as a contractor and Trustee; energy advisor to major firms and governments in 70+ countries for 45+ years; author of 31 books and more than 700 papers; and an integrative designer of superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles.

Background

He has received the Blue Planet, Volvo, Zayed, Onassis, Nissan, Shingo, and Mitchell Prizes, the MacArthur and Ashoka Fellowships, the Happold, Benjamin Franklin, and Spencer Hutchens Medals, 12 honorary doctorates, and the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (“alternative Nobel”), National Design, and World Technology Awards. In 2016, the President of Germany awarded him the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse).

A Harvard and Oxford dropout and former Oxford don, he’s an honorary US architect, Swedish engineering academician, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK). He has taught at ten universities, most recently the Naval Postgraduate School (Professor of Practice 2011–17) and Stanford University, where he’s currently Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Scholar of the Precourt Institute for Energy—but only teaching topics he’s never formally studied, so as to retain beginner’s mind. He served in 2011–18 on the National Petroleum Council and has advised the US Departments of Energy and Defense.

Time has named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. His latest books, mostly coauthored, include Natural Capitalism (1999, www.natcap.org), Small Is Profitable (2002, www.smallisprofitable.org), Winning the Oil Endgame (2004, www.oilendgame.com), The Essential Amory Lovins (2011), and Reinventing Fire (2011, www.reinventingfire.com).

His main recent efforts include supporting RMI’s collaborative synthesis, for China’s National Development and Reform Commission, of an ambitious efficiency-and-renewables trajectory that informed the 13th Five Year Plan; helping the Government of India design transformational mobility; and exploring how to make integrative design the new normal, so investments to energy efficiency can yield increasing rather than diminishing returns.

His avocations include fine-art mountain and landscape photography (www.judyhill.com), writing, music, linguistics, great-ape language and conservation, and Taoism.

Location

Basalt, CO

Twitter

@AmoryLovins

Downloadable Bios

General Audience

Energy/Security Audience

Automotive/Transportation Audience

Architecture Audience

Chinese Language

Authored Works
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On Proliferation, Climate, and Oil: Solving for Pattern

Proliferation, climate change, and oil dependence share both nuclear non-solutions that frustrate U.S. foreign-policy goals and non-nuclear solutions that can achieve them. This synthesis of all three issues shows how reconciling foreign with domestic energy policy can solve these and other big problems at a profit. This essay, first posted…

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Nuclear Power’s Competitive Landscape

A hotly debated topic, the present and future state of nuclear power and its competitors are the subjects of this presentation by Amory Lovins at RMI2009. Lovins argues that nuclear power is losing to micropower and renewable energy choices because they are cheaper, even with carbon pricing. Likewise, energy end-use…

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Climate: Eight Convenient Truths

In this article from Roll Call, Amory Lovins provides eight arguments for Congress to pass climate change legislation. He argues that protecting the climate is profitable and describes steps that can be taken to promote energy efficiency and save fossil fuels.

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Nuclear Power: Climate Fix or Folly?

This semitechnical article, summarizing a detailed and documented technical paper (see “The Nuclear Illusion” (2008)), compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors. It explains why soaring taxpayer subsidies haven’t…

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Does a Big Economy Need Big Power Plants

Amory Lovins wrote this piece as an invited blog for the New York Times “Freakonomics” column in 2009. In it, he argues for the use of distributed generation and “micropower” instead of big, central power plants. “…

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“New Nuclear Reactors, Same Old Story”

The dominant type of new nuclear power plant, light-water reactors (LWRs), proved unfinanceable in the robust 2005–2008 capital market, despite new U.S. subsidies approaching or exceeding their total construction cost. New LWRs are now so costly and slow that they save 2–20× less carbon, 20–40× slower, than micropower and efficient…

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Lovins’ Response to “The Homely Costs of Energy Conservation”

This piece, by Amory and Judy Lovins, was written in response to an article in The Wall Street Journal about the design, construction, and renovation of the Lovins’ home. The Lovins’ response draws economic conclusions opposite to those in the article, explaining how the house uses integrative design and clarifying…

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Nuclear Nonsense

Stewart Brand’s book, Whole Earth Discipline, features a chapter claiming that new nuclear power plants are essential and desirable, and that a global nuclear “renaissance” is booming. Amory Lovins reviews the book and finds fatal flaws in the chapter’s facts and logic. Lovins explains why each of Brand’s claims are…

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Transformational Trucks: Determining the Energy Efficiency Limits of a Class-8 Tractor Trailer

Feasible technological improvements in vehicle efficiency, combined with “long combination vehicles” (which raise productivity by connecting multiple trailers), can potentially raise the ton-mile efficiency of long-haul heavy tractor-trailers by a factor ~2.5 with respect to a baseline of 130 ton-miles/gal. Within existing technological and logistical constraints, these innovations (which do…