What Happened to Peak Oil ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

Greentech Media has a long look at the state of the peak oil debate - What Happened to Peak Oil?

The peak oil debate has taken an interesting turn. It seems now that we may hit peak demand before we hit peak oil (in terms of physical production limits). By "peak demand," I mean the globe may see a permanent decline in oil demand before we hit long-term physical production limits. If this is the case, the cornucopians will have been proven right -- not the peak oilers. Time will tell.

Why would we see a decline in demand any time soon, with the developing world population and consumption still growing strongly? As I’ve described in previous columns, exponential growth in electric vehicles and steadily declining costs may well lead to a relatively rapid transformation in how we move people and goods in the coming two to three decades.

We can’t at this point make any firm predictions about sales of EVs even in the next few years. But we are seeing a classic learning curve with EV technologies that suggests a coming boom in EV sales. The real game-changers will be the pending crop of 200+ mile range EVs, including Tesla’s planned Model 3, the Chevy Bolt, the new and improved Nissan Leaf, VW’s planned 300+ mile range car, and probably many other manufacturers already plotting developments in this space. Once these cars are available and affordable, we may well see the exponential growth curve turn sharply upward. Globally, we’re seeing a very robust sales growth trend continuing.

Independently of EVs, we’re also seeing many other technologies leading to lighter and more efficient cars. Some kind of fuel economy standard is in place now for 80 percent of the world’s passenger vehicles sold in 2013, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

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