May 30, 2007

Amory Lovins - RMI and the Hypercar

The Rocky Mountain Institute is a bastion of knowledge concerning energy efficiency and renewable energy. Much of its expertise focuses on the concept that "a watt saved is a watt earned" demand management can reduce energy expense more dramatically than adding new alternative supply production.

Started in 1982 by Hunter and Amory Lovins, the organization now has 55 employees offering energy, engineering, and efficiency design consultation services. Their website has a special page devoted to explaining RMI's Approach to Energy. But they are not satisfied with merely making recommendations - they are committed to implementing their concepts in significant ways. They work with corporations, municipalities, and energy companies to deploy energy saving technologies for architecture, transit, and utility systems.

One example is their production of the Hypercar® - a fullsize demonstration model that incorporates the use of carbon composites instead of much heavier steel of current manufacture. Their online slide show points out that while 6% of the energy in a car's fuel goes to accelerating the car, less than 1% actually is expended to move the driver. Most goes to moving the car, so that reducing the weight of the car will impact the 2/3 to 3/4 of the fuel use that is weight-related.

The recently redesigned website also features a number of audio and video clips including an appearance by Amory Lovins on The Charlie Rose Show on November 28, 2006. The interchange focused on how the U.S. can eliminate its dependence on oil through market-driven approaches. He talks about RMI's progress in several sectors — including heavy trucks, the military, light vehicles, biofuels, airplanes, and financial — in implementing recommendations made in RMI's book, Winning the Oil Endgame - which has been made available for online download or purchase.

It may have taken 25 years to begin to receive the recognition that the enterprise deserves, but it certainly is well-positioned now to help civilization adjust to a more efficiency-conscious view of energy.

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