Cleantech Innovation and 'Reinventing Fire' with Amory Lovins in San Diego on April 11

It’s easy to forget that before Thomas Edison came along that the world was lit only by fire. The dawn of the 20th Century came from the glow of electric lamps. Over time electricity became a commodity, and it got easier and easier to take energy for granted. But now, a little over 100 years later, energy is getting harder and harder to ignore.

Aside from the fact that Americans are now paying an average price of almost $4 a gallon for gasoline ($4.31 in California), we are increasingly confronting energy-related issues of national security and climate change. So it only makes sense to develop a long-term strategy to eliminate U.S. dependence on imported crude oil—to become far more efficient about the ways that we use energy, and to shift to domestic sources of sustainable energy.

Amory Lovins has spent the past 35 years thinking about how this could actually be accomplished. At Xconomy’s invitation, he’s coming to San Diego to explain how, in an appearance sponsored by CleanTech San Diego and the California Center for Sustainable Energy. (Xconomy hosted Lovins at a February event in Boston that drew a huge crowd, and we have the pictures to prove it.)

His appearance here is set for the evening of April 11 at the San Diego Gas & Electric Energy Innovation Center. You can find more information and online registration here.

Lovins outlines his strategy in his latest book, Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, which he co-authored with his fellow scientists at the Rocky Mountain Institute. (Lovins is the co-founder, chairman, and chief scientist of what he calls a “think-and-do tank” that is based in Snowmass and Boulder, CO.) He contends the United States can make this transition without oil, coal, or nukes—and by spending $5 trillion less than business-as-usual— and the result would be an economy that is 2.6 times bigger in 2050.

Lovins gained prominence in 1976 for his landmark essay, Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken, published in Foreign Affairs. He also preaches what he practices. At the Rocky Mountain Institute, he has spent the past 30 years working to realize his vision of an alternative energy strategy. His nonpartisan and economically based approach to energy policy has given him entre to numerous heads of state, and his long list of clients includes the Pentagon, Ford Motor Co., Wal-Mart, Corning, Monsanto, Ciba-Geigy, Texas Instruments, Unilever, and more than 100 utilities.

Throughout his career—and the 29 books he’s written—Lovins’s message has been remarkably consistent. Tapping market mechanisms to drive more efficient uses of resources isn’t simply a good thing for the global environment. It also generates greater employment, wealth, equality, and national security. Or as Lovins told us at an Xconomy event in 2008, it’s good for democracy and bad for tyranny and corruption.

After giving his keynote address, Lovins will sit down (on stage) with CleanTech CEO Jim Waring for a chat about the ways that San Diego’s entrepreneurs are applying green innovation in the energy-intensive sectors of transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. The idea is to explore how clean technologies being developed in San Diego can be broadly applied to revolutionize markets around the world.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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