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Amory Lovins

Chairman Emeritus
Chief Scientist
Co-founder
RMI Trustee
  • Executive Leadership
  • Office of the Chief Scientist

Physicist Amory Lovins (1947), FRSA, is cofounder and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org); energy advisor to major firms and governments in 65+ countries for 40+ years; author of 31 books and more than 600 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, former Oxford don, honorary US architect, and Swedish engineering academician, he has taught at ten universities, most recently Stanford’s Engineering School and the Naval Postgraduate School (but only on topics he’s never studied, so as to retain beginner’s mind). He served in 2011–18 on the National Petroleum Council. 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 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 expanding rather than diminishing returns.

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Basalt, CO

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@AmoryLovins

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Authored Works
insight

Urgent Memo to Biotech Pioneers: Life is More Than a DNA Sequence

Adapted and updated from the noted 1999 essay “A Tale of Two Botanies.” (http://www.rmi.org/biotechnology/twobotanies.html) Amory Lovins’s Huffington Post invited commentary on some remarks by Dr. Craig Venter and summarizes the limitations and risks of genomics, transgenics, and artificial life.

insight

Micropower Database 2014 (July)

2014 (July) Edition: The purpose of the micropower database is to present a clear, rigorous, and independent assessment of the global capacity and electrical output of micropower (all renewables, except large hydro and cogeneration), showing its development over time and documenting all data and assumptions. With minor exceptions, this information…

insight

An initial critique of Dr. Charles R. Frank, Jr.’s working paper “The Net Benefits of Low and No-Carbon Electricity Technologies,” summarized in The Economist as “Free exchange: Sun, wind and drain”

A May 2014 working paper by nonresident Brookings Institute fellow Dr. Charles Frank, highlighted in The Economist, claims that wind and solar power are the least, while nuclear power and combined-cycle gas generation are the most, cost-effective ways to displace coal-fired power. (He didn’t assess efficiency.) This detailed twelve-page critique…

insight

Response to J.P.’s column “New numbers, same conclusion”

Dr. Charles R. Frank, Jr.’s May 2014 Brookings Institution Working Paper claimed that new nuclear and gas-fired power plants can displace coal plants’ carbon emissions far more cost-effectively than solar and windpower can. This claim was featured and endorsed in late July by a full-page Free exchange” article in The…

Outlet Blog Post

Let’s Celebrate, Not Lament, Renewables’ Disruption of Electric Utilities

Renewables are making headway in Europe and bringing a low-carbon electricity system to the forefront. Renewables were 69 percent of new capacity added in 2012 in Europe and 49 percent in the United States. Not surprisingly, this threatens utilities unwilling to let go of outmoded business models and fossil-fuel generation.

Outlet Blog Post

What Did the 1973 Oil Embargo Teach Us?

Forty years ago this month, Syria and Egypt launched a Yom Kippur surprise attack on Israel to regain land and prestige lost in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israeli forces were nearing Damascus and Cairo when a ceasefire took hold. But as the Soviet Union resupplied its Arab clients and President…

Outlet Blog Post

Separating Fact from Fiction In Accounts of Germany’s Renewables Revolution

I recently wrote about—and debunked—the renewables “disinformation campaign” that spreads misinformed and falsely negative stories about the growth of renewable energy. A special focus of such disinformation has been reportage on Germany’s efficiency-and-renewables revolution. The impressive success so far of the German Energiewende (energy turnaround) is an important…

Outlet Blog Post

Debunking the Renewables “Disinformation Campaign”

According to Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, renewables are successful in Germany and not in the U.S. because Germany has “got a lot more sun than we do.” Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded during her now-infamous flub, “but here on the East Coast, it’s…

insight

Unpublished letter to the Economist

Your lament for Europe’s money-losing electric utilities, pickled in their own brine, begs the question whether old, long-and often still-subsidized oligopolies should be bailed out or shielded from competition when they bet against innovation and lose. They were supposed, but failed, to prepare for renewables by reinvesting their hundreds of…

insight

Global Energy Affairs

The current issue of Global Energy Affairs features two unique perspectives on nuclear energy. Amory Lovins highlights how Germany, unlike Japan, utilized its decision to abandon nuclear energy to create a revolution in efficiency and renewable energy. Malcolm Grimston contends that despite a highly favorable environment for nuclear development in…