Small Is Profitable—Book Review
To understand the importance of Amory Lovins' most recent contribution to the debate, Small is Profitable, you must first face this Intransigence demon head-on. RMI's publication makes no attempt to explain the technical basics of Distributed Energy; you'll find no engineering schematics of rotating machinery or step-down transformers. And at times it employs language that borders on the irrationally condescending ("in 1992 we determined that the industry had reached a 'teaching point'", is enough to put more technically savvy readers off). And some graphics absolutely defy comprehension. For example Figure 1-30 (p. 72) looks like something Timothy Leary might have designed. Nevertheless, the mere publication of this work catapults it onto the shelf of texts that will be referenced for decades. Why? Because it goes for the intellectual jugular of the power industry. In 400 pages, 119 figures and 782 footnoted references, the authors lay out a veritable smorgasbord of information to explain why smaller, more localized energy production and management systems proffer a whopping 207 benefits on society. Two hundred and seven quantifiable benefits. For those of us toiling in the daily trenches of power regulation, very few individual efforts could be as timely, or as helpful. We know how to change out coal plants for photovoltaic panels and gas-fired turbines; changing hearts and minds has proven to be much harder.
By Anne-Marie Borbely-Bartis and Shimon Awerbuch for Energy Policy; Volume 31, Issue 15, Pages 1705–1708 (December 2003).

207 Reasons to be Small
Small Is Profitable is dedicated to Fritz Schumacher, author of its potently influential intellectual forebear Small Is Beautiful. The thesis of the RMI study will long since be familiar to readers of this column. As the title of the study suggests, the 'right size' for a very large proportion of 'electrical resources'—constituents of electricity systems, notably but by no means exclusively generation—is almost certainly a great deal smaller than tradition believes.
By Walt Patterson for Modern Power Systems (April 2003).

Small Is Profitable—Book Review
For those looking for pathways to clean, decentralized energy solutions, Small Is Profitable will be an indispensable reference work and source of inspiration. If you want to see more PV, fuel cells, cogeneration, and energy efficiency, read Small Is Profitable and encourage utility regulators to do the same.
By Larry Chretien for Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (2003).

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