An Update on our Fellow, Amory Lovins
Since the World Business Academy’s founding, we have been consistently supported by our dynamic team of Fellows. It is our continued goal to leverage and catalyze the ideas of our Fellows as they do for us.
The Academy is happy to share an update on Physicist Amory B. Lovins, the cofounder, Chairman Emeritus and until September 2019, the Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, where he continues to serve as an independent contractor and Trustee. He has been an energy advisor to major firms and governments in 70+ countries for 45+ years; author of 31 books and 650+ papers; and an integrative designer of superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles. For more on his biography, read more here.
In August, he released his latest paper: “Decarbonizing Our Toughest Sectors — Profitably.” According to the RMI website, Dr. Lovins outlines five innovative strategies for businesses in such carbon-intensive industries as heavy-duty trucking, aviation, steel, and cement. These new models can both provide early wins toward a net-zero goal by 2050 and amplify financial benefits from the clean energy transition across multiple economic sectors:
- Rapidly scale green technologies to outcompete legacy rivals and supplant obsolete technologies. Tesla and others are racing to replace diesel 18-wheelers with highly competitive electric trucks that can transform logistics, paying for their costly recharging infrastructure from grid benefits and from fuel savings by haulers big and small.
- Create novel incentives and business models, such as “golden carrot” purchase commitments, that reward innovative competitors challenging incumbent industries with breakthrough technologies. Combining the same battery improvements as electric cars and trucks with super efficient airplanes can enable clean fleets of smaller electric planes flying point-to-point—and transform aviation by offering a more convenient, flexible alternative to big fueled planes flying hub-and-spoke routes.
- Integrate new design methods, technologies, materials and manufacturing techniques to disrupt legacy industrial ecosystems. For example, carbon-fiber composites made the body of BMW’s i3 electric city car lighter, so it needed fewer batteries. This, plus savings from simplified manufacturing, offset the cost of its pricier materials, quadrupling its efficiency at competitive cost and without compromise.
- Relocate basic materials industries using cheaper production unlocked by clean energy. Making metals was always about location. Now some steel producers are setting a new trend by co-locating production with iron ore and locally abundant renewable energy, rather than shipping ore to fossil-fueled plants far away.
- Harmonize customers’ and providers’ incentives by rewarding frugal structural design and “servitizing” basic materials. Making cement and steel releases 15 percent of the world’s CO2, yet these materials are now at least half wasted by inefficient structural design. Combining frugal design with a service model could instead reward both providers and customers for doing more and better with less for longer. Thus, the owner of a bridge built with far fewer tons of materials could get paid for the traffic that the bridge safely carries—not for the physical asset or its materials.
Read the full article here.
Also see more of Dr. Lovins recent works such as “Decarbonizing Heavy Transport and Industrial Heat” from July, which showed with real-world images and careful documentation how recent advances in emissions-heavy industries—including trucking, aviation, metallurgy, and cement—have almost certainly tipped the economic balance of decarbonization from cost to profit. Read the full report here.
He also recently participated in American Solar Energy Society’s (ASES) 50th Annual National Solar Conference in August, and delivered the closing keynote address.
According to ASES’s website, the conference “expanded knowledge, inspired action and strengthened community through a wide variety of formal and informal exchanges and networking among online and in person participants. Attendees celebrated 50 years of progress and joined together in deeper commitments to accelerate the energy transformation equitably in this decade of disruption.”
Dr. Lovins provided a compelling reminder about the importance of design to achieve the transformation we envision, and referenced a quote from Dwight Eisenhower; “If a problem can’t be solved, enlarge it,” serving as a reminder of the importance of bringing more stakeholders into the discussion, even if they don’t agree with you.
For more updates, make sure to stay connected with Dr. Lovins and RMI.
Amory Lovins Twitter: @AmoryLovins
RMI Twitter: @RockyMtnInst