Peak Oil is You

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Page added on September 30, 2009

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Energy guru says green needn

Amory Lovins runs the numbers for an oil-free, nuclear-free future

If someone told you America’s long-term energy needs could be met without oil or nuclear power, would you think he was crazy? The craziest thing about Amory Lovins is that he says the financial numbers prove it.

“We feel very comfortable that we’re likely to have an important and coherent story about the profitable journey beyond fossil fuels, to stuff that works better and costs less than the present arrangements,” Lovins, co-founder of the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute, said in an interview.

The institute’s story will get a full airing this week at “Reinventing Fire,” a two-day symposium in San Francisco focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy and the prospects for creating an economy that has no need for fossil fuels. The event is one of the year’s highlights for Lovins’ institute, a “think-and-do tank” that advises corporate and government clients on energy issues.

Over the past year, crude-oil prices have been swinging dramatically up and down. This week has been marked by something of a down cycle, with per-barrel prices settling in the mid-$60s. But when Lovins talks his way through the calculations, he almost makes you wonder why anyone is buying oil at all.

“If the average cost of saving half the oil is, as we showed, 12 bucks a barrel in year 2000 dollars, and the average cost of displacing the other half with natural gas and advanced biofuels unrelated to food is 18 bucks a barrel, then the average cost of getting off oil is $15,” he said. “And I don’t care what the price is, that’s still going to make sense and make money.”


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