In the previous chapters, we have discussed a number of different renewable power generation technologies that will increasingly be used in an effort to get us off fossil fuels. Though one of the simplest and most cost-effective solutions in the short term is one that doesn't involve new power generation at all, but rather using the energy we generate now, more efficiently. So instead of increasing generation, we're talking about decreasing consumption.
Amory Lovins coined the term "negawatts" in 1989 to describe the concept of energy you don't have to generate. An accomplished author and Chief Scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, Lovins is perhaps one of the most influential voices when it comes to conservation and efficiency. Over the past few years, the emergence of the energy crisis has sparked renewed interest in negawatts among the world's most forward-thinking investors.
Negawatts not only can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (as well as other pollutants, such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide), but also can increase energy supplies quickly and cost-effectively.
For example, a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report in 2007 concluded that if utility companies in Texas invested $11 billion in energy savings and incentives for consumers and businesses before investing in new power plants, the Lone Star State would yield close to $50 billion in savings and other economic benefits over a 15-year time ...