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Innovator Article

Amory Lovins Calls for Farewell to Fossil Fuels

By Marianne Skoczek

“What if we could make energy do our work without working for our undoing?”

With this provocative question, Amory Lovins, co-founder, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, launched into the topic of his book, Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, a detailed strategy for business to help wean the U.S. off of its dependency on oil and coal.

A Harvard and Oxford dropout, Lovins has published 29 books and hundreds of papers, and received numerous awards, prizes and fellowships. Named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine, Lovins counsels governments and firms worldwide on energy and resource efficiency.

He toured UC Davis on February 28, including the West Village development, the world’s first net-zero energy community (pictured). Later, he spoke to a capacity audience at an event co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Management and the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, which he serves as an advisory board member. He outlined how the U.S. can secure a safer, healthier future by ending its reliance on fossil fuels and other risky energy sources.

Lovins offered actionable solutions for transportation, buildings, industry and electric power generation. By 2050, he said, the U.S. can grow its economy by 158 percent while eliminating the need for oil, coal, nuclear energy and one-third of the natural gas—and save $5 trillion in net-present-valued cost.

“We need to use energy in a way that saves money, modulate demand to match energy’s real-time value, and optimize supply from the cheapest, least risky sources,” he said. The effort “must be led by businesses for profit” and “driven from the C-suite,” with a focus on outcomes rather than motives.