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End of the Age of Oil?

Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy' started by RichardC, Apr 5, 2015.

  1. RichardC

    RichardC Cdn Sig & Solar Supporter

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    As automotive fuels represent the principal use of petroleum, it is now apparent that the ongoing development of electric car technologies is heralding the end of the age of oil. Electric cars are and will continue to improve exponentially relative to gasoline powered ones. Electric cars are following the same diminishing marginal cost "technology" track as microprocessors, flat screen TVs and solar panels, whereas gas cars are dependent on the use of a polluting, and rapidly depleting scarce resource, characterized by increasing marginal costs of production for new reserves.

    Consideration of:

    1. the current, massive advantage of electric cars in terms of fuel costs (approximately a 5 to 1 advantage, with a cost of around $2 per 100 km for electric cars v. $10 per 100 km for gas cars);
    2. the massive advantage enjoyed by electric cars in terms of drive train simplicity (where the primary propulsion components of the gasoline drive train have approximately 100 times as many components as those of electric cars);
    3. the increasing use by electric cars of zero marginal cost software in place of costly mechanical systems used in gasoline cars;
    4. the declining costs and increasing performance of lithium ion battery systems (typically improving on the order of approximately 15% a year, on a continuing basis) and the exponentially expanding rates of battery production for automotive applications;
    5. the undisputed superiority of the driving experience provided by electric cars, as reflected in the unequalled customer satisfaction ratings of the Tesla Model S;
    6. the rapid rollout of both high speed (DC) and level 2 charging stations and systems on a global basis;
    7. the increasing recognition of the harm to the planet and the future of our species caused by GHG emissions;
    8. the ever increasing marginal costs of production of newly discovered petroleum reserves (in terms of both economic and environmental costs);
    9. the continually falling costs and increasing volumes of solar generated electricity; and
    10. the ongoing development of the smart grid (energy internet) which will enable software controlled battery electric cars to buffer renewable energy production by buying power when it is in oversupply (prices are low), and supply power to the grid when the demand is high (prices are high),
    makes it clear that electric vehicles are destined to very rapidly replace gasoline ones, and suggests that the transition will occur with surprising rapidity, once the battery cost and availability tipping point is crossed.

    Agree, disagree, other thoughts?
     
  2. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

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    All great points and I agree that we are at the beginning of the end for ICE cars. I don't think it will be a fast death but rather slow and lingering.

    My only comment is in relation to this point:

    I am still wondering how this will play out. I go to a mall now, or an office building, with hundreds of cars in the parking lot, and usually two electric stalls. Perhaps one stall is occupied, if at all. I park there and always wonder what will happen when just a few more percent turn to electric. All of these charging stations will be constantly full. Will the malls, office buildings, etc. expand the electric stalls? I somehow doubt that. What about the Superchargers 10 years from now? Will they keep just adding more and more? And what about long weekends in the summer when everyone is on the road? How do we account for that?

    I think we're in the heyday for driving electric when it comes to getting unoccupied charging stalls. The Supercharger I use most, in Hope, BC is usually always empty. That can't last long.
     
  3. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

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    I also agree that your points are all good ones. And I suspect Canuck could be correct about the speed of the change. It will take a serious push from Big Brother to speed the transition, IMHO. Perhaps I'm cynical (well, I know I am, question is whether it's misguided cynicism!) but I don't think we can underestimate the fight Big Oil will put up to maintain the status quo, likely through resistance to government policy change. A quick transition could be economically destabilizing (what will the Middle East do if nobody wants their oil?). I was hopeful that the 2008 economic woes would be the time for forward-thinking politicians to begin spending stimulus money on green energy projects... but they didn't. That was the better part of a decade ago now, and nothing much has changed.

    Whatever the truth will be, I suspect it will be an exponential transition. Only question is just how steep the curve will be.

    Build out of infrastructure will happen as demand increases. I expect gas stations will begin to transition too... we talk in terms of mall parking, but as technology advances and charging becomes faster and driving ranges increase, how we integrate charging with daily life is likely to change too. I don't think it will look quite the way it does today and I don't think it will scale up on the exact model we see today.

    Interesting to watch!
     
  4. RichardC

    RichardC Cdn Sig & Solar Supporter

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    Thanks, good points all.

    With respect to remote charging, during my first two years with the Model S, I needed remote charging (outside of properties we owned) only couple of times (for overnight stays in Ottawa). That said, I plugged in for free wherever possible, I did so because it was there, no one else was using it, and I wanted to demonstrate that there was demand (but not because I needed to).

    As the average range extends out to 300 km (as per the Bolt and other pipeline vehicles) the vast majority of EV owners will be in same position.

    I expect that the market will respond efficiently to whatever demand exists for remote charging with a variety of pricing mechanisms, direct payments, minimum in-store purchases, etc., such that the market will clear. Most owners will likely continue to charge almost exclusively at home, and those needing to charge remotely will pay the necessary premium to do so.

    However, as solar continues to become cheaper and more ubiquitous, and we move to real time pricing, I hope that we will see greater innovation in the electrical system and pricing mechanisms. In my view the price differential between electricity and gasoline will ultimately be so compelling that the market will steamroller over the obstacles. (Perhaps wildly optimistic?)
     
  5. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

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    Perhaps... given the huge inertia of the existing energy system, change won't be easy. I like to consider myself an 'optimistic realist'. The optimist in me says 'yes, we can do it, bigger challenges have been met throughout history', but the realist says 'it will be a heck of a task...' :cool:

    I'm looking to install solar myself. Walking the walk, being the change, thinking globally and acting locally... any of those tired phrases could apply. But it's really about satisfying myself that I'm doing what I can to get my kids thinking beyond their laptops and iPhones.
     
  6. Raffy.Roma

    Raffy.Roma Active Member

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    Agree 100% Richard. Problem is that in Italy people are far away from understanding these points. Imagine that the electric FIAT 500 is sold only in the USA and not in Italy........

    Of course this happens, the Italian Government does not force FIAT to sell the electric FIAT 500 in Italy like the American Government does in the USA.
     
  7. PaulusdB

    PaulusdB Mayor Gnomus Vintage Limb

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    Don't forget about the massive amounts of fossile fuel used by ships and airplanes.
    Neither of them have the kind of pollution limiting devices, standard to cars.
    To add to that, these fuel uses are tax exempt.
    And with fossile fuel demand going down (cars), prices will come down even more. Making it even more economical to haul goods across the globe to find the cheapest place of manifacture/processing.
    All in all, where is the environmental benefit?
    My guess is that fossile fuels will not stop being used in large volume until they get depleted to the extent of being literally priceless.
     
  8. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Well, it's usually cheaper to charge at home. This is because if the employer offers free charging they have to add it as a taxable benefit. In addition, because it typically doesn't take all day to charge, the car owner has to keep track of time and go down and move the car (usually to a more distant parking space). If they should forget or are busy they will likely get a nasty note. So mostly those with EVs don't charge at work unless it's absolutely necessary. You also have to register for the privilege of paying more to charge your car. Just not worth it.
     
  9. Alfred

    Alfred Member

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    Road transport, where electric cars are likely to have most of the impact, accounts for about half of the oil consumed. Aviation and marine bunkers are nearly irrelevant. An overview of the IEA data can be found here. It is certainly conceivable that transitions in certain segments of road transport could be relatively rapid. Normally this happens when the new technology becomes effectively cheaper than its conventional alternative. That is yet a few years off, but perhaps really just a few years.
     
  10. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    My view is that cheap solar and technological superiority of electric drive trains will displace oil for personal transport within 2-3 decades. For heavy transport, shipping and air traffic it's dependent on how energy storage/batteries are able to improve.

    Also I wouldn't underestimate the fight that will be put up by those with economic interests in the status quo.

    Unfortunately most of the oil producing countries of the world are either 1) for all practical purposes dictatorships/totalitarian (Middle east, Russia, Venezuela) or 2) indirectly controlled by special interest (sorry guys but the US is what I'm getting at here).

    Most control though lies On the consumer side. Europe is a mixed bag due to a mix of progressiveness and rational thinking vs. old vested interests. China, thankfully, is being run by a government with a kind of engineering mindset (even though it's a dictatorship). India will go green/solar for simple economical reasons (nothing else will make sense) and so will Africa.

    If the transition happens quicker or slower depends. IMO, very much on if the status quo is upheld with respect to the political control mechanisms in the USA and Russia in the coming 10-15 years.
     
  11. renim

    renim Member

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    On an energy basis, the oil age ended around 2011, when coal re-took the weight of being the world primary fuel commodity (on an energy basis, not on a financial basis)
    that may not be heralded in the streets, it neither serves the oil industry prestige, nor the coal industry public relations.

    OPEC rise significantly removed oil from electricity generation
    EVs rise will remove oil from vehicular transportation
     
  12. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    #12 nwdiver, Apr 6, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    'We have everything we need to wake-up to a different kind of world'

    We need a culture shift. We need it now; time is not on our side.

     
  13. ggies07

    ggies07 Active Member

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    #13 ggies07, Apr 6, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    This video gets me every time I see it. Love it!
     
  14. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

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    I was expecting a downer I didn't particularly need on a Monday morning... :frown:

    But it's not that at all - a positive message! The question remains (as it always does)... how to get the shift to happen at the necessary rate??
     
  15. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    That's the question; But I think that's also the 'good' news... we're beginning to understand the right questions to ask, the right problems to solve. We know what needs to be done, we know how to do it. The REAL question, the REAL problem is how do we motivate people to ACT? IMO we need to learn from the civil rights movement. The progress that we've made in the last 60 years is absolutely astounding.

    If we can end this kind of culturally engrained discrimination....
    image_07_01_040_coloredwaiting.jpg

    Then we can end this kind of culturally engrained destruction...
    TS-Open_pit_Suncor-600.jpg

    We have to; failure is not an option.
     
  16. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    We may be in the waning years of oil, but taking oil, gas and coal together, carbon is still king. There's a very simple answer to how we will shift away from carbon, @beeeerock: a carbon tax. The tax should be revenue-neutral, preferably by direct flat-rate rebates to U.S. residents, akin to Alaska's Oil Trust Fund payments. The tax should be started at a low level but increase sharply over time, which will give people and businesses a reasonable opportunity to adjust. The tax should also be levied as an duty on imports from countries without a comparable carbon tax.

    Why ramp the tax in? Capital purchase decisions (like buying an Escalade instead of a Model S) take time to unwind. If everyone knew, with certainty, that there would be a $50/ton carbon tax in 2020 and a $100/ton carbon tax in 2030 (with inflation escalators), we would see a sharp change in investment. We could also wind down subsidies to renewable power, ZEVs, and so forth, at the same time we end subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries, reducing our national deficit by billions.
     
  17. rays427

    rays427 Member

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    The problem with a carbon tax or any other method of raising the price of energy is it makes everything that is manufactured more expensive. This makes you less competitive to any other place that doesn't impose it. The idea of replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar sounds great and it certainly can help but the sun doesn't shine all the time nor does the wind blow all the time. This means that you need backup. The cost to maintain peak capacity to replace the wind and solar costs a lot more per Kwh than if it runs continuously. This greatly increases the overall cost of the energy. Battery storage can help but it doesn't help much during the winter when solar is much lower than in the summer. My solar varies from a peak of about 60 Kwh per day average in mid summer to as low as 4 Kwh per day average in winter. So I need a lot of backup in the winter. The system I installed pays out in about 8 years. The cost to install a system that would handle my winter needs is cost prohibitive even if I had enough roof space. So I think we are a long way from replacing fossil fuels.
     
  18. nwdiver

    nwdiver Active Member

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    Carbon Tax + Carbon Tariff; This isn't rocket science....

    We're >10 years from that being an issue... there's little doubt that cheap storage will be ready by then...

    There's no reason we can't reduce our use by >80% in 20 years. The fact that 100% is going to be challenging shouldn't discourage us from doing what we can.
     
  19. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Agreed, @nwdiver. As a further point, if the US imposes import duties the levy an equivalent carbon tax, our trading partners will have a strong incentive to follow suit. Why? If they levy the carbon tax, they keep keep the tax proceeds. Otherwise, the U.S. gets the cash.

    There is a question about how this would affect US exports. It might be possible to rebate the carbon taxes on exported items through a negative duty when exporting to a country without a carbon tax. Because the US is a big net importer of goods, this negative duty could be paid for with the carbon import duties. (This is an idea in the rough.)
     
  20. beeeerock

    beeeerock Active Member

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    The whole issue is like watching a James Bond movie... will he or will he not manage to defuse the bomb before it destroys the world? Will we manage to sort out our biggest problem before it kills us off, as a species? The suspense is horrible, especially when you realize it's NOT a movie... :crying:

    The shift has to be done in a way that can be managed and doesn't simply tip us into a different boiling pot of water (i.e., economic meltdown). But it needs to be done quickly... if it isn't too late already.

    In my head, I see carbon taxes ramping up, with global recognition that it must be done everywhere... and for those who don't get on board, big tariffs on anything they produce. Or maybe they're boycotted altogether. The political sell is the most important part of it... without the will to act, it'll get discussed for the next 30 years - if we last that long.

    The taxes would go straight into funding clean renewable energy. Carbon users/producers would pay to obsolete themselves.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I question whether 100% is actually necessary. At some point, there must be a sustainable level of production that is offset through other means, such as the growth of forests. Before we complicated things, buffalo farted and forests burned and volcanoes spewed GHG's - the planet seemed to find an equilibrium. I have no science to support that idea, but think some academic would have considered this. The real question is how quickly can a new acceptable equilibrium be reached with the help of natural processes, and do we have to go to zero (or find technologies to go negative and start cleaning the atmosphere!)? We produce CO2 with every breath we exhale... that won't change (unless we're dead)!
     

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