Skip to main content

Words of Caution on Amory Lovins

Today's Washington Post contains a profile of Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and I suggest you read it all. There's a lot to like about his work to get America to kick the oil habit, and his ideas to improve energy efficiency are very compelling.

However, when he makes claims about nuclear energy, I suggest that the world check his math very closely:
Unlike some environmentalists, Lovins remains adamantly opposed to nuclear power, which he says doesn't make economic or nonproliferation sense. New U.S. subsidies in last year's Energy Policy Act, he notes, "are equal to the entire capital cost of the next six reactors . . . but is similar to defibrillating a corpse: it will jump but not revive."
Not so fast, Amory. Beginning last year Summer, my colleague David Bradish began taking a hard look at RMI's research and found a lot of it wanting when it came to its methodology. A couple of months later, Lovins sent us an email asking David to correct the record. But when David went back to check again, he found even more reasons to distrust RMI's conclusions.

To say the least, it's been a frustrating process to see media outlets from around the world accepting RMI's positions uncritically. Nevertheless, we've continued to chronicle RMI's errors whenever we see them mentioned in the press. You can look through the list of links below to see what I'm talking about:

Rod Adams vs. Amory Lovins
More Bad Data From Amory Lovins
Revisiting RMI's Bad Data
Revisiting RMI And Amory Lovins
Doublechecking The Numbers
Checking The Data With Peter Ausmus
Drinking Amory's Kool-Aid
Amory Lovins, Subsidies and Environmental Action

Technorati tags: , , , , , Carbon Emissions, ,

Comments

Rod Adams said…
Eric:

I happened to see Amory's smiling face staring at me from the front page of the Washington Post Business section this morning.

The reporter did a pretty good job of capturing the essence of the man - long on ideas, short on actual accomplishments, long on wealthy friends and consulting contracts, short on solutions that really work.

I personally feel vindicated that the article did not describe Lovins as a physicist and pretty much came right out and declared that Oxford did not consider random investigations of energy issues to be a serious academic pursuit WORTHY of a DEGREE.

Of course, the article was generally favorable and painted him as a Don Quixote type, but us English majors know a thing or two about the windmills in that story.

Rod Adams
Whitehall said…
Another problem with many of Lovins' proposals is that they lack controls and are subject to abuse. Here's an article about how Enron used "negawatts" to rob the people of California of millions:

http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=488
GRLCowan said…
I know of nothing Lovins has said that would not, if believed, have the effect of preserving the dominance in energy markets of petroleum and natural gas.

Why couldn't the Washington Post capture the essence of the man in 15 words?

--- G. R. L. Cowan, former hydrogen fan
Boron: internal combustion, nuclear cachet

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…