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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.


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.


Basalt, CO



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Authored Works

Origins of the Nuclear Power Fiasco

This chapter is excerpted from the book, Energy Policy Studies. In the chapter, Amory Lovins argues that the use of nuclear power in the United States is a fiasco. He outlines the series of structural and conceptual errors by the government that resulted in failure in the utility industry, extreme…


Nuclear Follies

This unpublished letter to Forbes responded to James Cook’s famous cover-story article of the same name about what the magazine called “the largest managerial disaster in business history.” A quarter-century later, the disaster continues to unfold just as the letter foresaw.”…


Reducing Vulnerability: The Energy Jugular

This chapter of the book, Nuclear Arms: Ethics, Strategy, Politics, details America’s energy security vulnerability. America’s energy system contains multiple causes of energy insecurity: complexity (because the causes of failure are impossible to foresee), control and synchronism, hazardous fuels, inflexibility and interdependence, specialized requirements, and difficulty of repair. There are…


Real Security

This article is a summary of Amory and Hunter Lovins’ book, Brittle Power. The book argues that energy policy creates enormous security risks, primarily through overcentralization and technological misapplication. They show that national energy policy all too often undermines military policy and national security. This article details the security benefits…


The Fragility of Domestic Energy

In this classic article from 1983, Amory Lovins questions the reliability of America’s domestic energy supply. Domestic energy sources seem to be the answer to the fragility of an energy supply that comes mainly from international sources. However, Lovins argues that most domestic sources are also centralized, and hence vulnerable…


Brittle Power

Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security, prepared for the Pentagon in 1981, was the first and remains the definitive unclassified treatise on the vulnerability of energy critical infrastructure. It also synthesizes from engineering and biology how to redesign energy systems to be resilient, so that major failures, now inevitable,…


Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security

In this classic from 1982, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins argue that domestic energy infrastructure is vulnerable to disruption, by accident or malice, often even more so than imported oil. According to the authors, a resilient energy system is feasible, costs less, works better, and is favored in the…


Energy, Economics, and Climate

In this editorial, Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins challenge the assumption of ever-increasing carbon dioxide via unchecked fossil fuel combustion. They identify the performance of efficiency gains and argue for continued progress along this soft energy path in order to avert a future of unchecked global warming. They argue that…


The Surprises Are Coming

In this dialogue, Amory and Hunter Lovins articulate the importance of accounting for the often neglected but unavoidable occurance of surprise disruptions in energy and resource supply. They present insights on environmental fragility and scarcity, the irresponsible and dangerous nuclear legacy, and the democratic potential for localized innovation towards resilient…