By L. Hunter Lovins and Amory B. Lovins
Also in Green@Work May/June 2000.
Twenty-three years ago, claims that energy efficiency would shift United States energy use patterns, reducing overall consumption far below official forecasts, were laughed at. Today, total U.S. energy use is below the level suggested in the “soft energy path” (see figure). In all but five of the intervening years the amount of energy consumed per dollar of GDP fell—a total drop of more than 35 percent since 1973. Renewable energy sources, delayed by 90-percent cuts in research and development budgets and suppression of public information are now slowly regaining momentum. Improvements in technology, designs that integrate wholesystems, and greater competitive pressures are creating a “third wave” of energy efficiency, reversing the stagnation from 1986 to 1996.
This article provides an overview of some of the issues and innovations that are likely to alter the global energy sector in the early 21st century.
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In “Energy Surprises” (May/June 00 issue of green@work) we described some of the issues and innovations that will drive energy policy in the early 21st century. From superefficient energy use to the emergence of new forms of electric utilities, from whole system design to climate change, the energy world as we know it is undergoing dramatic change. This article will build on that information, describing how more efficient vehicles will lead to a hydrogen economy, how energy efficiency can promote development around the world, and finally how the lessons learned from this have given rise to a new form of economics called Natural Capitalism.
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