By Amory Lovins
Founder and chief scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Co-authored with Thomas Dinwoodie
In his recent New Republic interview, President Obama said we “need some big technological breakthrough” to tackle climate change. Mr. President — our nation already has the technologies to protect the climate while advancing prosperity. Here’s how.
Your National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed just last June how to produce 80 to 90 percent of America’s electricity from proven, reliable and increasingly competitive renewable sources like the sun and wind.
That confirmed the findings of Rocky Mountain Institute’s peer-reviewed study Reinventing Fire, introduced by the heads of Shell Oil and Exelon and endorsed by President Clinton. RMI showed how to run a 2.6-fold-bigger U.S. economy by 2050 with no oil, coal, or nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, a $5 trillion dollar net savings, 82-86 percent lower carbon emissions, and no new inventions, with the transition led by business for growth and profit.
The U.S. is already started towards a clean energy system based on technologies cost-competitive today in many markets and, unlike traditional generation, with steadily declining costs. These new winners include energy efficiency, solar, wind, and flexible demand through a smart grid, integrated with geothermal, biomass, hydro, and others. Soon most renewables will compete almost anywhere without subsidies — especially if fossil-fuel subsidies are phased out too, as the G8 nations have agreed to do.