Physicist Amory Lovins, who is called one of the Western world’s most influential energy thinkers, will speak at Keppel Auditorium on the Catawba College campus on Wednesday, April 17, at 6:30 p.m.
The event is hosted by the Center for the Environment at Catawba College in partnership with Clean Air Carolina, the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club, NC Sustainable Energy Association, and NC Conservation Network.
Lovins, chief scientist and chairman emeritus of the Rocky Mountain Institute, will speak on “Transforming the Energy System for Security and Prosperity.” In addition to Newsweek’s designation as one of the Western world’s most influential energy thinkers, Time magazine has named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people and Foreign Policy has named him one of the 100 top global thinkers.
This will be his second visit to the Catawba campus. Dr. John E. Wear, executive director of the Center for the Environment, called Lovins “a visionary thinker whose rigorous analysis has changed the way the world thinks about energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
The Rocky Mountain Institute, located in Basalt, Colo., is a market-oriented, entrepreneurial, nonprofit, nonpartisan “think-and-do tank.” The Institute has advised the U.S. government and military, along with governments around the world, including China and India, on energy use.
Lovins, an experimental physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford, has briefed 20 heads of state, advised the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, and consulted for more than 65 industries and governments worldwide for more than 45 years.
In North Carolina, Lovins helped launch the energy efficiency revolution that has saved over $1 billion so far on North Carolina’s college and university campuses.
He has taught at 10 universities, most recently at Stanford’s Engineering School and the Naval Postgraduate School. He has served on the U.S. National Petroleum Council and the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Advisory Board.
Lovins has held several visiting academic chairs, authored 31 books and more than 630 papers, and designed super efficient buildings, vehicles, and industrial plants. He co-authored the best-selling book “Natural Capitalism,” and authored the best-sellers “Small is Profitable” in 2002, “Winning the Oil Endgame” in 2004, and “Reinventing Fire” in 2011. He is the author of “Foreign Affairs” most reprinted article, “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken,” which predicted year 2000 U.S. energy intensity within one percent.
He has received the Blue Planet, Volvo, Zayed, Onassis, Nissan, Shingo, and Mitchell prizes; MacArthur and Ashoka fellowships; 12 honorary doctorates; the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (alternative Nobel) National Design, and World Technology awards.
In 2017, the President of Germany awarded him The Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, the country’s highest civilian honor.
According to Lovins “most of the energy we use is wasted. Smarter technologies and designs that use energy more efficiently could provide the same or better services with far less energy, money, and risk. Moreover, the fossil fuels that provide most of our energy now generally cost more than the modern renewable sources that have already taken over two-thirds of the world’s power-plant market.
“These profound shifts in both demand and supply set the stage for rapid change in almost everything we thought we knew about energy,” he said. “Oil suppliers have more unsellable than unburnable oil: they are more at risk from competition than from regulation. Electricity suppliers, too, face a swarm of disruptors that will transform their business beyond recognition. And meanwhile, Edison’s electric industry is merging with Ford’s auto industry to eat Rockefeller’s oil industry — while insurgents challenge incumbents in all three of these giant industries. These transformations offer remarkable opportunities for informed citizens in every community to build a durable economy and to make energy supplies resilient, so catastrophic interruptions of supply shift from inevitable to impossible.”
Lovins’ recent work included:
- Supporting the Institute’s collaborative synthesis for China’s National Development and Reform Commission of an ambitious efficiency and renewable trajectory that informed the 13th Five-Year Plan.
- Helping the Government of India design transformational mobility.
- Exploring how to make integrative design the new normal so that investments to energy efficiency can yield expanding, rather than diminishing, returns.