SPECIAL ADDITION: Disruptive Energy Futures with Amory Lovins
Disruptive Energy Futures
with Amory Lovins
January 5, 2017
Colorado Mountain College in Edwards
As it confronts troubling fundamentals, the global oil industry’s most basic challenge is not lowered prices but weakening demand as customers find powerful new ways to save or displace oil. Oil suppliers are more at risk from competition with those new technologies than from climate regulation. Every significant global market for oil, and increasingly for natural gas too, is challenged by disruptive competitors—especially on the demand side—that hydrocarbon suppliers scarcely track, from radically efficient vehicles to superior ways to get around without them (or, through smart urban design, not need to). The pace of transformation may exceed what oil companies’ culture can manage. As the world begins to embrace a low-carbon future, global “peak oil” demand in as few as five years, and the prospect of profitably getting off oil by 2050, what are the strategic implications and opportunities?
Meanwhile, the electricity industry’s basic assumptions since the 1890s—ever-rising demand, ever-bigger and hence -cheaper power plants, hence falling prices—have reversed. Electricity providers face at least eight simultaneous disruptors, on both the demand and supply sides, that will transform its technologies, institutions, finances, and business models beyond recognition. These transformations don’t add; they multiply and exponentiate. Incumbents’ efforts to fight disruptors may actually strengthen them. Navigating these rapids presents an exciting opportunity for agile entrepreneurs, an extraordinary test of the industry’s leadership skills, and an opportunity to start turning power supplies from brittle to resilient.
Together, these two emergent stories of profound disruption bring into question almost everything we thought we knew about energy.
About Amory Lovins
Physicist Amory Lovins is cofounder, Chief Scientist, and Chairman Emeritus of Rocky Mountain Institute; advisor to major firms and governments for over 40 years in over 65 countries on advanced energy efficiency; author of 31 books and more than 600 papers; and recipient of the Blue Planet, Volvo, Zayed, Onassis, Nissan, Shingo, and Mitchell Prizes, MacArthur and Ashoka Fellowships, 12 honorary doctorates, and the Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood (“alternative Nobel”), National Design, and World Technology Awards. An honorary architect, Swedish engineering academician, and former Oxford don, he has taught at ten universities. He is an advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and a member of the National Petroleum Council. In 2009, Time named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Foreign Policy, one of the 100 top global thinkers. In 2016, the President of Germany awarded him the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit, that nation’s highest civilian award.
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