Last updated on: 12/15/2008 | Author:

Amory Lovins, MA Biography

Chariman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Can Alternative Energy Effectively Replace Fossil Fuels?"

“The nuclear industry’s central stated reason for omitting renewables, such as windpower (which accounts for nearly half the recent growth in decentralized renewables’ global capacity), from its list of admissible competitors with nuclear power is that windpower isn’t ’24/7′ or ‘reliable.’ Unlike some important sources of distributed renewable power — such as small hydro, geothermal, biofueled, and even much solar-thermal-electric generation — that can be dispatched whenever desired, windpower (and smaller but even faster-growing photovoltaics) do produce varying output depending on the weather. Yet this variability, often assumed to pose a fatal obstacle, becomes far less important in a renewable energy supply system using diverse technologies, because weather that’s bad for one source is good for another: stormy weather is generally good for windpower and hydro but bad for solar, while fine weather does the opposite.Diversifying locations helps too, because weather varies over areas that are often smaller than power grids. Technical reliability of single generating units is not the issue: modern wind turbines are ~98–99% available, far better than any thermal plant…

Research is increasingly showing that if we properly diversify renewable energy supplies in type and location, forecast the weather (as hydropower and windpower operators now do), and integrate renewables with existing demand- and supply-side resources on the grid, then renewables’ electrical supplies will be more reliable than current arrangements.”

Cowritten with Imran Sheikh, “The Nuclear Illusion,”, May 27, 2008

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Cofounder, Chariman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute, 1982-present
  • Founder and Chariman, Fiberforge, Inc.
  • Former Regents’ Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley
  • Former Grauer Lecturer, University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Former Luce Visiting Professor, Dartmouth University
  • Former Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Colorado
  • Former Oikos Visiting Professor, University of St. Gallen
  • Former Visiting Professor, Peking University (China)
  • Former MAP/Ming Professor, Stanford University
  • Founder, E Source
  • Recipient, Lindbergh Award, 1999
  • MacArthur Fellow, 1993
  • Recipient, Right Livelihood Award, 1983
  • Recipient, Mitchell Prize, 1982
  • Member, Senior Energy Advisory Board, US Department of Energy, 1980-1981
  • MA, Oxford University
  • Attended Harvard University
  • Holds nine honorary doctorates
  • Consultant (Private-sector), Accenture, Allstate, AMD, Anglo American, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Baxter, Borg-Warner, BP, Bulmer, Carrier, Chevron, CIBA-Geigy, CLSA, Coca-Cola, ConocoPhillips, Corning, Dow, Equitable, GM, Hewlett-Packard, Interface, Invensys, Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi, Monsanto, Motorola, Norsk Hydro, Prudential, Rio Tinto, Royal Ahold, Royal Dutch/Shell, Shearson Lehman Amex, STMicroelectronics, Sun Oil, Texas Instruments, UBS, Wal-Mart, Westinghouse, Xerox, major real-estate developers, and over 100 utilities
  • Consultant (Public-sector), United Nations, Resources for the Future, the Australian, Canadian, Dutch, German, and Italian governments, 13 states, Congress, and the US Energy and Defense Departments
Quoted in:
  1. Is Nuclear Power Cost-Effective?
  2. Should Hydrogen Be the Dominant Energy in the US?