Brittle Power


Brittle Power

"Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security" is a 1982 book by Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, prepared originally as a Pentagon study, and re-released in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. The book argues that domestic energy infrastructure is very vulnerable to disruption, by accident or malice, often even more so than imported oil. According to the authors, a resilient energy system is feasible, costs less, works better, is favoured in the market, but is rejected by U.S. policy. [http://www.rmi.org/images/other/EnergySecurity/S01-06_EnergyVulnerable.pdf Critical issues in domestic energy vulnerability] ] In the preface to the 2001 edition, Lovins explains that these themes are still very current. [ [http://www.natcapsolutions.org/publications_files/brittlepower.htm Preface to the 2001 edition] ]

Vulnerability to large-scale failures

Lovins argues that The United States has for decades been running on energy that is "brittle" (easily shattered by accident or malice) and that this poses a grave and growing threat to national security, life, and liberty. [ [http://www.natcapsolutions.org/publications_files/BrittlePower/BrittlePower_Parts123.pdf Brittle Power, Chapter 1, p. 1.] ]

Lovins explains that this danger comes not from hostile ideology but from misapplied technology. The size, complexity, pattern, and control structure of the electrical power system make it "inherently" vulnerable to large-scale failures. The same is true of the technologies that deliver oil, gas, and coal to run our vehicles, buildings, and industries. Our reliance on these delicately poised energy systems has unwittingly put at risk our whole way of life. [ [http://www.natcapsolutions.org/publications_files/BrittlePower/BrittlePower_Parts123.pdf Brittle Power, Chapter 1, p. 1.] ]

Lovins detailed research shows that these vulnerabilities are increasingly being exploited. "Brittle Power" documents many significant assaults on energy facilities, other than during a war, in forty countries and within the United States, in some twenty-four states. [ [http://www.natcapsolutions.org/publications_files/BrittlePower/BrittlePower_Parts123.pdf Brittle Power, Chapter 1, p. 2.] ]

Resilient energy systems

Lovins explains that most energy ultilities and governments are unsuccessfully trying to build high technical reliability into power plants so large that their cost of failure is unacceptable. A resilient energy supply system, on the other hand, consists of numerous, relatively small modules with a low individual cost of failure. A key feature which helps to make these energy sources resilient is that "they are "renewable": they harness the energy of sun, wind, water, or farm and forestry wastes, rather than that of depletable fuels." [ [http://www.natcapsolutions.org/publications_files/BrittlePower/BrittlePower_Parts123.pdf Brittle Power, Chapter 16, p. 264-266] ]

Related articles

"Brittle Power" is 500 pages long and has 1,200 references. It has been summarised and referred to in several publications:
*The Atlantic Monthly's 1983 lay summary "The Fragility of Domestic Energy" [ [http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/EnergySecurity/S83-08_FragileDomEnergy.pdf The Fragility of Domestic Energy] ]
* the 1984 book chapter "America's Energy Jugular" written for security professionals. [ [http://www.natcapsolutions.org/publications_files/EnergyJugular_ICS_1984.pdf Nuclear arms: Ethics strategy, Politics] ]

*An October 2001 brief for the Montreux Energy Forum, a group of energy-industry leaders.

The author

Lovins has published 28 books and hundreds of research papers. His work has been recognized by the Alternative Nobel, Onassis, Nissan, Shingo and Mitchell prizes, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Happold Medal, eight honorary doctorates, and the Heinz, Lindbergh, World Technology, and Hero of the Planet Awards. [ [http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/Transportation/T04-01_HypercarH2AutoTrans.pdf Hypercars, hydrogen, and the automotive transition] "International Journal of Vehicle Design", Vol. 35, Nos. 1/2, 2004, p. 50.] Lovins has also acted as a consultant to dozens of Fortune 500 companies. [ [http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/Energy/E05-07_TiltingAtEnergy.pdf Tilting at Energy Windmills] "The Wall Street Journal", 25 July 2005.]

ee also

*Efficient energy use
*Energy conservation
*Energy security and renewable technology
*New York City blackout of 1977
*Northeast Blackout of 2003
*Renewable energy commercialization
*Small is Profitable
*Soft energy path
*Soft energy technology
*Winning the Oil Endgame

References

External links

* [http://www.grist.org/comments/soapbox/2001/11/20/in/ Put This in Your Pipeline and Smoke It]
* [http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC04/Lovins.htm Real Security: Exposing vulnerabilities in our energy system so that we might overcome them]
* [http://www.rmi.org/images/PDFs/EnergySecurity/E03-06_TowerDsnFlaws.pdf Towering Design Flaws]


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