Energy and Society from now until 2040

By Andy May

ExxonMobil released its 2017 Outlook for Energy, A View to 2040 in mid-December. David Middleton has written that the report reveals wind and solar will supply a whopping 4% of global energy by 2040! He also reports that wind and solar capacity will grow, but we will only be able to utilize 30% of the wind capacity and 20% of the solar capacity due to their intermittent nature. This is true, but the report has much more to say and this year the nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State makes it even more important. Here we will cover some the other numbers in the report.

The cost of energy is closely correlated to standard of living. In addition, it has often influenced major political decisions, like Germany’s decision to invade Russia or Japan’s decision to bomb Pearl Harbor in World War II. Figure 1 shows the relationship between per capita GDP (one standard measure of standard of living) and annual per capita electricity consumption for 218 countries in the CIA Factbook. Excluding the anomalous countries listed in the upper right of the figure the R2 is acceptable. The least squares line suggests that each 0.2 kWhr/person of electricity consumed annually can raise GDP by one dollar per person. Obviously, other factors are important also, but the trend suggests that per capita GDP is positively influenced by the electricity consumed or that countries with a higher standard of living use more electricity.

Figure 1

If all 218 countries are included the R2 falls to 0.49, but the slope is nearly the same at 0.208. Energy consumed is undoubtedly partially a function of the cost of energy as long as the basic infrastructure for delivering electricity is in place. I could only find consistent data for the cost of electricity in purchase power parity dollars (PPP$) for eleven countries with good electricity infrastructure. They are plotted in Figure 2. Data was also available for China, Mexico, Brazil, India and Nigeria, but it was not used because the electricity delivery infrastructure did not cover enough of the population. Purchase Power Parity dollars were used because a US dollar will buy a different amount of goods in different countries. Food, housing and gasoline, for example, cost more in Europe (in US $) than they do in the USA. So, plotting the cost of electricity versus actual price, converted to US dollars would be very misleading. For more information on Purchase Power Parity see here.

Figure 2

Figure 3 (Source ExxonMobil)

Figure 3 shows total energy use per person compared to the 2014 UN Human Development Index for countries around the world. It shows the same positive relationship between standard of living and energy use. Because standard of living and energy use are closely related and energy use is strongly affected by the cost of energy, it is in the best interest of any country to lower the cost of energy and make it readily available. Therefore, you can be sure that some of the decisions made by President Trump and Secretary Tillerson will be based, at least in part, upon the ExxonMobil data and their projections.

Key conclusions of the report:

  • Developing countries, like China and India are urbanizing and their populations are becoming more affluent, this will increase global energy demand 24% by 2040. This includes the ExxonMobil prediction that energy use efficiency will double (figure 4).
  • The world population will increase from 7.3 billion today to over 9 billion in 2040, with a much larger middle class population (defined as >$14,600 and <$29,200 yearly for a family of 4) using energy than today. World GDP will effectively double by 2040. Living standards will rise dramatically, especially in the developing world.
  • Natural gas consumption will increase 54 quadrillion BTUs by 2040. Nuclear and renewables will increase 24 and 20 quadrillion BTUs, respectively. The 2040 energy mix will remain about the same as today (figure 5 and Table 1).
  • Rising electricity demand will drive the growth in global energy between now and 2040. The increase in the number of homes with electricity, industrialization of the developing world and our increasingly digital and plugged-in lifestyles will drive this growth. Half of global electricity demand is from industrial activity; thus good jobs can be lost if electricity costs are too high. Jobs will move to locations where electricity is cheap, an example is the new Voestalpine steel plant in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Crude oil and natural gas will remain the world’s primary energy source. Even in 2040 oil and natural gas will supply 57% of all energy demand, this is an increase from 56% today. Oil demand will grow 18% through 2040 and natural gas demand will grow 44%. The developing world will account for the largest increases. Unconventional (“fracked”) oil and gas, oil (“tar”) sands, and deep water oil production will account for over 25% of the liquid supply in 2040.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions will increase, at least until 2030.

Figure 4 (Source ExxonMobil)

Figure 5 (source ExxonMobil)

Table 1

While the population will be much higher and more affluent in 2040, there will be gains in energy efficiency due to new technology. Efficiency gains restrain energy demand growth in developed countries, but the demand in the developing world rises dramatically due to the rapid growth of the world middle class. The global middle class is expected to double in size (see figure 7) in the next 15 years and many of the newly middle class will be first time users of electricity and petroleum. Nearly everyone in the developed world is already in the middle or upper class and already uses energy. The dramatic growth in energy use in the developing world, relative to the developed world, is shown in figure 6.

Figure 6 (source: ExxonMobil)

Figure 7 (source: ExxonMobil)

Coal demand is expected to rise slightly until 2025 and then fall back to current levels by 2040 almost entirely due to new coal fired power plants in the developing world. The global fleet of cars, SUV’s and pickups will grow 80% to roughly 1.8 billion vehicles. Gasoline and diesel will dominate as a vehicle fuel, but there will be some growth in electric and hybrid vehicles, see figure 8.

Figure 8 (source: ExxonMobil)

One can debate whether reducing carbon dioxide emissions is important or not, but if we assume we need to reduce carbon dioxide, it seems clear that producing shale gas and using it to produce electricity is more effective than using wind or solar. This is made clear by comparing the change in carbon dioxide emissions in the United States with those in Germany. ExxonMobil produced Figure 9 to illustrate the point.

Figure 9 (source: ExxonMobil)

The growth of North American unconventional (“fracked”) natural gas production is critical as can be seen by comparing projected demand (horizontal black lines) to supply around the world as ExxonMobil does in figure 10.

Figure 10 (source: ExxonMobil)

Conclusions

The media loves to report things like “solar energy will double” or “solar and wind are growing faster than fossil fuels.” While true, these statements are misleading because little of our energy comes from these sources, so doubling them makes no significant difference. This report supplies ExxonMobil’s best assessment of where we are and where we are likely going with respect to energy. I doubt their predictions are perfect, but I would wager they are close. The main takeaway is there is not going to be a major change in our energy infrastructure or energy supply mix over the next 25 years. It is possible that growth in carbon dioxide emissions will slow, but it is inevitable that emissions will be higher in 2040 than they are today.

It is also clear that we are not going to run out of coal, oil and natural gas. These are abundant today and they will still be abundant in 2040. Given the very high quality of available modern emissions control equipment for true pollutants, like sulfur dioxide and mercury, and recent low estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide (ECS) there is little evidence that fossil fuels are a problem today or in the foreseeable future.

For a discussion of modern coal power plant emissions control equipment and its effectiveness see this report by Moretti and Jones of the Babcock and Wilcox Power Generation group or this EPA summary. All too often people seem to think that coal plants in China are equivalent to coal plants in the US or Europe. Modern very effective pollution control equipment has been in universal use in the USA and Europe for decades. As you can see in the reports, this equipment reduces noxious gases, like sulfur dioxide or nitrous oxide by 90%+. Unfortunately, this equipment has not been universally installed in China or elsewhere in the developing world, and that is one of the reasons that their air pollution is so awful. The other reason is some people in China (and elsewhere) still burn coal, wood and dung in their homes for cooking or heat and the emissions go straight into the air with no scrubbing at all. Some consider carbon dioxide a pollutant, but this is difficult to support given that it is essential for life on Earth.

All of the data used in making the figures in this post is available for download, as an Excel spreadsheet, here. The author, now retired, worked for Exxon from 1979 until 1985, he also owns stock in the company.

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84 thoughts on “Energy and Society from now until 2040

  1. In Ontario Canada my delivered cost of electricity is now OVER $0.35 US per KWH. My modest electricity use vastly overshadows the cost of heating my large old farmhouse with natural gas!

      • If they were available by 2040 I would expect them to take a larger slice of the cake.

        I do not expect fusion to be ready by 2040, but I still hope that thorium nolten salt reactors will be available by 2040.

      • No one has a commercializable fusion power plant yet. So naturally it’s use in 25 years can’t be predicted.

        Most of the obstacles to nuclear are political, especially for later generation technologies, like molten salt. Also very hard to predict.

  2. “Unfortunately, this equipment has not been universally installed in China or elsewhere in the developing world, and that is one of the reasons that their air pollution is so awful”

    That is a favourite argument of the anti-coal brigade, but is it really true? How many coal-fired power stations are sited near cities? With maybe a small number of exceptions I’d say that most smog is created by coal-burning in homes and small factories, and/or vehicle and biomass/waste-burning.

    • Scrubbers are installed on all the new Chinese USC coal plants since 2006. Not on any old ones, nor in the steel industry (or any other that derives process heat from coal), nor in all the commercial and residential coal heating furnaces.

      • Forty years ago scrubbers were installed on all Czechoslovak coal plants. In the afternoon, only a slight haze was exiting smokestacks. In the morning, only a slight haze was rising towards smoky skies. During the night, they bypassed scrubbers.

  3. Speaking for those of us with low (current) delivered cost of electricity, you can keep your policy schemes to yourselves and the potential for exporting or sharing your misfortune just plummeted thanks to many recent elections. You can also fund your own defense for a change and we will no longer look the other way in trade and antitrust approaches to non-market protectionism.

  4. Agree about coal and natural gas. Think oil abundance and reasonable oil price in 2040 is quite doubtful, and the present oversupply misleading. That does NOT mean the world will have run out of oil. It means significantly higher prices and constrained production which will force efficiency in things like hybrid vehicles (or decline in long haul trucking in favor of more fuel edficient intermodal), just as XOM projects. There are three interwoven reasons for this more pessimistic view. Conventional oil production (API>10, porosity>5%, permeability > 10 millidarcies) provably peaked about 2008. That year IEA did a survey of ~800 producting fields including all supergiants and giants, collectively >2/3 of 2008 production, and found an average field decline of about 7%/year. At current oil consumption, that requires annual replacement capacity of ~5mbpd. In a decade, that will be about half of current capacity. Creaming curves by basin say that about 3/4 of all the oil of all types (conventional and unconventional) ever to be discovered already has been. Calculations in essay Peeking at Peaks. So finding another half of everything currently producing is quite problematic. Second, most of that is going to be deepwater or Arctic or unconventional,so expensive to bring on, nominally >$100/bbl. Third, the exception is unconventional tight shale oil, reasonably inexpensive. And the rate at which Athabascan bitumen can be produced by SAGD, or Orinoco tar by steam injection like Kern River is limited by petroleum geophysics. ‘Savior’ shale TRR is overestimated, as essays Reserve Reservations and Matryoshka Reserves illustrate. Even if shale recovery factors double to ~3% (doable with tighter lateral spacing, more perfs with plug and perf, and more proppant) there simply isn’t enough shale. Bazenov is dicey be because of its structure (lateral targets are at most only 3-8 meters thick, not 80 like Bakken or 200 like Permian), Sichuan is partly folded/faulted like Monterey, most of China’s other shales are in the gas rather than oil window like the Marcellus, and so on. Green River kerogen doesn’t count because of the water needed for production (3-5 barrels/bbl) when the Colorado Compact is already water short. The microwave speculation is just that, with no funding for an pilot experiment for a decade now since proposed.
    So looking at the picture as a whole, oil is a shoe that could pinch. There is one significant caveat to that more pessimistic view. The Siluria Technologies OCM (natural gas to ethylene) catalysis is working as expected at Braschem in Texas at industrial scale. Their ETL catalysis (ethylene to liquids) is working at pilot scale. So together OCM/ETL appears able to economically convert abundant natural gas to gasoline, diesel, and jet kerosene at well under $100/bbl equivalent, with better efficiency and lower capital and energy costs than Fischer/Tropsch or equivalents like XOM’s methanol route. Which explains why corporations like Bechtel, Linde, and Aramco have invested big time in Siluria.

    • Or it will reopen some “Stranded Asset” oil reserves that will then become more economical to produce due to the increase in oil price.

      • Its not purely an economic stranded asset problem. It is an oil really is a finite fossil fuel whose extraction rates and recovery factors depend on geophysics problem. There is only so much TRR, and we already are using 75% of all the good stuff that exists to be found. There is lots of shale, but future recovery might reach 3%. Average recovery in conventional fields is 26%, and in the best light crude fields (Ghawar) reaches 65%.

    • So together OCM/ETL appears able to economically convert abundant natural gas to gasoline, diesel, …

      T. Boone Pickens is pushing natural gas as our answer to terrorism. link Among other things he advocates converting our trucking industry to natural gas. link In other words, it isn’t necessary to convert the natural gas to liquids.

    • Rud, TRR (technically recoverable oil) is huge in the world today. But, political problems keep a lot of it off of the books. European oil is kept off by environmentalists, Venezuelan, Mexican and Middle Eastern by their governments. In the US government restrictions on the offshore, government lands and Arctic. I did a lot of work over the years estimating TRR for various companies and I know how big it could be. I’d like to write it up, but I might piss off previous employers and I’d catch a lot of flack from people who would want more documentation that I simply can’t provide. The only thing I can say, is pessimists have said the end of oil is near since the 19th Century – yet the end still is not in sight. Obviously, a lot of it is price sensitive, but at $50 there is a lot, at $100 the volumes are beyond imagining.

      • Not sure that is correct Tony. When oil was at $100 the economy was doing very well and people could afford the higher price. Now at just over $50 and the economy not doing so well and carbon taxes increasing costs everywhere, it is less affordable. But a gradual rise to $100 will not be harmful and the Carbon Tax impact will decline. The US in particular should do very well with a large part of the world self immolating.

  5. Just my 2 cents worth
    If you double a penny, you still only have 2 cents
    If you double, redouble, re-redouble, that penny is still only 8 cents.

  6. Predicting a world 24 years ahead is more than ambitious. I am not buying any stock based on this recommendation. For example, how many major and minor wars should we expect?

    • The Japanese used to pretend to have 250-year plans, back in the 1980s. They didn’t see the economic collapse of the 1990s coming, or persisting to the present day.

      Predictions are hard — especially about the future.

      • “Predictions are hard — especially about the future.”

        Nah. PhD economists have predicted 11 of the last 2 recessions.

        We seem to have replaced quantity with quality when it comes to predictions.

  7. THis may be the most Pollyanna estimate one can find for a oil company. I have been following the development of electric cars for 6 years now, and can confidently predict that gasoline powered cars are near the end of the line. The ONLY obstacles for an electric car revolution were all about the batteries, and ONLY the batteries – too heavy, too long to recharge, too expensive. Mostly too expensive. Something like $600 per kWhr 6 years ago. And recharges that took many hours. And heavy, that is, until li ion batteries appeared – at the moment an 85 kWhr battery pack (250 miles of range in a full sized vehicle or SUV) weighs about 700 pounds, spread thruout the chassis. Our friend the greedy Mr Elon Musk recently claimed recharges, which his cars (at a supercharger station,) can currently manage (to 80%) in 25 minutes or so, will have that time cut in half. That is insignificantly greater than refueling a gas powered car, especially when one does something other than refueling at a station. Recharging speed is mostly of importance when travelling. Around town, one is highly unlikely to need more than a quarter charge or so, which can be handled in the garage or carport or curb at night – a 220/60 amp outlet connection can recharge a quarter of that battery in less than 2 hours. But the cost reduction is the big kahuna – GM claims they are paying only $150 per kWhr for the batteries they are installing in their electric cars this year. An electric car is intrinsically better than a gas powered vehicle. This has nothing to do with emissions. It just is – thousands of fewer parts, more reliable, far fewer maintenance requirements, no transmission needed. No exhaust system. No fuel tank or fuel lines. No mufflers. No complicated computer engine management systems. It is an intrinsically simpler machine (unless one goes hog wild
    like Tesla Motors and builds a $80,000 and up (way up) vehicle. A simple motor- most owners could easily replace one that has gone bad – although it is highly unlikely that the car will outlast its electric motor.
    I hope I have convinced all that claims that we’ll still be building gas powered cars
    in 2040, or 2030, or perhaps even as soon as 2020, is not aware of the coming revolution. It’s practically here.

    • I would prefer a motor in the hub of each wheel. That gives you a 4wd all time, and also an additional brake recharging the battery. But the battery is not there yet. I want to see 1,000 km between charges. 100 km is not enough.

      • Fully agree with 4 motors. I also think swappable batteries are the obvious solution to range. It solves charging times AND battery obsolescence. It needs a common standard, however, and I can’t see that happening any time soon with the silly competition and lack of cooperation at present.

      • ” I also think swappable batteries are the obvious solution to range.”

        Go and spend an hour at a motorway service station over a 24 hour period and count how many vehicles fill up with fuel. Then estimate the size and weight of a battery pack and do the appropriate calculations regarding the storage and labour involved in changing of those battery packs and last but not least the space required to store and charge those packs and the electrical energy required to charge them.

        Then double it to take into account Sod’s law.

        Now think again…

      • Well .. fuel also has a weight and volume. Instead of tanks you would need a storage space. But there is a fire hazard. A battery, by definition, stores all its energy inside. It can blow up. Fuel only becomes dangerous when in contact with air. What we need is a fuel cell, burning alcohol, or, even better, gasoline.

      • Cat, batteries can be recharged, unlike the fuel taken away! If it takes an hour to recharge, you only need 1 hour’s worth of batteries, 2 for sods law, 3 just in case. I agree with the explosive risk, however. This needs attending to.

      • Silly competition and lack of cooperation? So, the prius was engineered by the UN? The Leaf by the California legislature. Pushing standards and cooperation onto companies is a sure fire method of killing innovation. You might want to wait until the technology matures enough to satisfy your basic requirements.

      • “I would prefer a motor in the hub of each wheel.”

        Large weight penalty for suspension is a problem, wires and cooling add to it. And if it’s directly driven, the torque (and current) required get very high. They already brake regen with a single motor.

      • The problem with swappable batteries is the fact that batteries deteriorate as they age.
        How do you prevent someone from swapping old batteries for new ones at such a swapping station?

      • Jer0me, First off, gasoline has an energy density over 100 times higher than batteries.
        If you are going to recharge in 2 hours, this means that you will need 200 times as much volume to store those batteries compared to gasoline. It’s probably worse since batteries are fixed in size and shape, while gasoline is a liquid. Which means that packing efficiency for your batteries is going to be lower as well.
        Beyond that, each swapping station is going to need it’s own power plant in order to provide the electricity needed to recharge the those batteries.
        Finally, a gasoline car can re-fill in 5 minutes. Now imagine the type of equipment needed to swap out a battery pack in 5 minutes, not just the part that removes it from the car, but the part that moves the battery pack to a storage area, selects a fully charged one, and brings that to the car.
        Now compare that to the capital and maintenance costs of a fuel pump.
        Building such a station would easily run well into the 10’s of millions of dollars.
        Finally, you have to figure out a way to figure out the relative age of the batteries you are removing from the car, so that the person can be charged more if he is being given a pack that is newer than the one he is dropping off, or refunded if it’s older.
        Then again, an old pack won’t store as much charge, so you have to figure out how to compensate for that. Would the buyer be able to select only a new pack in case he has a long way to go? Would he have to pay a surcharge to cover that convenience?

        When you add in the capital and maintenance costs of such a station, to the costs of supplying the electricity for the recharging, the idea that battery swapping stations is an economic solution to this problem falls apart completely.

      • jer0me, the issue of replacing the gasoline being sold is a non-issue that has been solved by gas stations decades ago.

    • “It’s practically here.”

      No it isn’t. Not even close.

      Overview of early electric cars (1895-1925)
      One hundred years ago electric cars were a common sight on city streets in Europe and the United States. Many of them had a range comparable to that of today’s EV’s.

      http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/overview-of-early-electric-cars.html

      So no significant change there in over a century.

      Aside from which, there isn’t the infrastructure in position – neither the generating capacity nor the charging facilities – in place, and there will not be for decades.

      • Oh, and I can put over 500 miles’ worth of diesel in my Mercedes is a couple of minutes. Come back when you can match that.

      • “So no significant change there in over a century.”

        You’re joking, right? Check your link for max speed of each model.

        “Max speed = 12 mph…Maximum speeds vary from 12 to 15 mph…Maximum speed = 14 mph…an average speed of 17 km/h…when driven at 17 mph…when driven at a speed of 20 mph”

      • “So no significant change there in over a century.”

        As per Paul’s comment below: my Ford C-Max can get highway speed (120 km/h) with the battery…

        Just sayin’…

      • Paul, if you want to keep the same range, you need to drive at the same speeds.
        Going faster dramatically reduces your range.

      • MarkkW “Going faster dramatically reduces your range”

        Not according to Caligula Jones’s report of his C-max, compared to BEVs of old.

        FYI, I was pointing out catweazle666’s comparison of range, ignoring speed post. We’ve made “yuge” leaps in battery (and car) technology over a century. It’s silly to think otherwise.

      • “FYI, I was pointing out catweazle666’s comparison of range, ignoring speed post. We’ve made “yuge” leaps in battery (and car) technology over a century. It’s silly to think otherwise.”

        And yet, I suspect you’ll find that there were proportionally many more electric cars than petrol on the road pre-WWII than there are today…

      • ““You’re joking, right? Check your link for max speed of each model. ”
        & then check out this one –
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Jamais_Contente

        Um, sure. Let me know if you want to ride in that thing. Ever. On a roadway. Or in the winter.

        Seriously, this and the “ratio of electric to gas” at the time are both ridiculous arguments.

        Every year, some university kids get on the news with a “solar powered car” that is about as likely to be mass-produced as these things.

    • Actually, probably not. I have been active in energy storage since the early 1990s. There are basic electrochemical reasons LiIon won’t cutbitbthat Musk’s Gigafactory cannot solve. The only faint glimmer of a real range, recharge time, and cyclelife solution is Fisker Nanotech’s LIC. See my recent post on that at Climate Etc. But so far that is all supercar hype and no substance, Fisker having lost 1.2 billion his last EV go around.

      • A hybrid 18 wheeler might be kinda heavy? Aren’t there weight limits for trucks? A Toyota Corolla and A Toyota Prius are close to the same size. The Corolla has a bit more horsepower and weighs a couple of hundred pounds less. Also, hybrid fuel efficiency is best in urban settings which isn’t where one finds most big tractor trailers? Maybe hybrid delivery vans first, hybrid 18 wheelers later (or never)? Not that I actually know anything about this.

      • Let the tek decide .
        I think the weight of extra hybrid “stuff” would be inconsequential for a semi-trailer . But the battery for pure electric would take up a lot of the trailer and be orders of magnitude nonsensical . Regenerative breaking can be worth the complication in any stop-and-go or mountain driving .
        And don’t forget the first wide spread use of hybrids was , and continues to be diesel-electric locomotives .

      • I remember when the steam locomotives on the Chicago NorthWestern commuter lines were replaced with diesel(electric)s in the early 1950s . ( and the round-house in Highland Park IL abandoned )
        The steams with their puffing pistons and push rods were a much better show to a young kid . The roar of the diesels didn’t quite make up for the loss of visuals .

    • arthur…
      The market is speaking and it is incomprehensible that people’s minds can be changed in 3 years or even much longer , and the gasoline powered car will be history. Most people cannot afford an impractical car with very limited range or the $100,000 car loaded with 700 pounds of batteries with a range of 300+ miles. Nobody wants to wait for a long time to recharge the battery when they can fill up in 5 minutes and drive for 400 + miles. Besides the private industry have developed an extensive infrastructure though out the US and much of the world that allows one to drive with the confidence that they can fill up with gasoline and diesel. Who is going to pay for the multitude of charging stations and how many years before it matches the present system.
      “As a percentage of total vehicle sales, PHEVs and BEVs combined, only represented 0.66% of all vehicles sold in 2015. (114,022 divided by 17,386,331 vehicles)

      Here is the state of public interest in electric cars as of early 2016.
      Since the introduction of PHEVs and BEVs in 2010, there are fewer than 400,000 such vehicles on the road today, compared with approximately 255,000,000 gasoline and diesel-powered light vehicles.

      This is in stark contrast to President Obama’s forecast of 1,000,000 PHEVs and BEVs being sold by the end of 2015.”
      https://dddusmma.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/electric-vehicles-disappoint/

    • “It’s practically here.”

      ICE vehicles have prior franchise. It’s what everybody drives. All sorts of declarations of why electric cars are better mean nothing. Coke sells more than Pepsi, not because Coke is better.

    • Great for California, but in a North Dakota winter morning you’ll drain the battery just turning the cab into a humanly habitable compartment. That waste heat isn’t all waste. Again, unless you live in CA.

      • Not to mention that you won’t be able to see out the windshield without a fair amount of heat unless you either don’t breath or drive with the window open.

    • Ford just announced wi-fi charging for it’s planned electric cars. Now that seems rather scary to me.

    • We will have batteries suitable for electric cars right about the same time fusion power is perfected.
      Idealists have been proclaiming that electric cars are about to take off for 100 years, and will continue making such predictions for the next 100 years.

  8. Arthur
    2015 worldwide production of cars and commercials was approx 90 million, figures are not out yet but possibly 91 million in 2016.
    2016 production of electric cars is reported as about 1.3 million, a bit easier to add this data as you can imagine.
    The rate of increase in production of EV’s is dropping at a rate of 8% per annum after doubling for a number of years. If that drop in production rate increase continues there will be 7 million EV’s produced in 2020 worldwide.
    To produce 7 million EV’s by 2020 there is some major investment needed to produce these, completely possible, and on top of that we need a lot more power production to cope and guess what most of these new facilities will be running on.
    An EV is still a fossil/nuclear fuelled car for a long time to come. The CO2 production goes from your tailpipe to the chimney stack of the power plant.
    While 7 million EV’s per year is great it will still be less then 8% of total number of vehicles produced.
    Perhaps by 2040 it’s share reaches 50% of total production but we will be making combustion engines for some time yet all the while building new gas and coal fired power plants just to cope with the increase in consumption from this clean technology.

      • Cycling is great, good for the body and appetite and it does mean that a visit to the in-laws needs to be kept short otherwise you won’t be home before dark or because of the distance it won’t happen at all, all positives here.
        However, there is always an however, it will mean that we will all need more food and combine that with the food shortages looming as predicted by various studies we will need more studies just to assess the impact of that increased food consumption due to cycling. The liquid requirement will go up also and water is becoming a scarce commodity too if studies are to be believed.
        I don’t like standing behind a car billowing it’s exhaust fumes and EV’s would be great to reduce that immediate impact but in the end we are still burning more or less the same quantity of fossil fuels to get from A to Z.
        In the end there will need to be a power plant every 20 km to cope with this increase in demand so we can recharge at source. This will reduce the transmission losses to recharging stations, another winner.
        Haven’t seen many approvals for hydro lately, the only real clean alternative that can be relied upon. (don’t mention all the concrete required).

  9. And today I read how China has become the leading producer of solar power. No mention at all of them being the leading producer of CO2…

    • China is a leader in ping pong too.

      So what!

      China has stopped starving the Chinese people. Leadership to North Korea.

      China has improved slave labor coal mining conditions by adopting 100 year old US coal mining safety rules.

      China may be a leader in communist propaganda.

  10. At the risk of oversimplification, electricity is an extremely cheap commodity to produce. This true when considering the benefits. Power companies are able to meet demand. We do not need an infinite supply. Electricity is produced with insignificant environmental impact.

    Sin tax is one reason for those with a high per kwh rates. Your government leaders feel guilty about something so you have to pay more.

    Stupidity is another reason for a high electric bill. You leave the windows open in your big castle and then call the power company greedy because they think you should pay for what you use.

    Predicting how power will be produce to 2040 is not too hard considering the dynamics of building power plants. Predicting demand is harder. When I was working in China, I found new air conditioning units on even older buildings. I read a study by an American university that was ‘alarmed’ by the rapid penetration. Using energy is a ‘sin’ reserved for the west.

  11. The “Key conclusions of the report” are all based on the assumption of continued exponential growth of: population, food production, water use, affluence, energy consumption, consumption per se.
    I wonder when exponential growth is expected to start leveling off. 2041?

    • Not really exponential. But frighteningly high perhaps. In point of fact, developed countries tend to have low birth rates and fairly stable resource consumption. The problem now is that only 20% of us live in developed countries. Until humanity gets the 99% of the population that wants a high standard of living up to such a standard resource consumption is going to increase. A LOT.

    • Even the UN is predicting that population growth will level off in 2050and start falling after that.
      My personal guess is that peak population will occur between 2030 and 2040.

  12. The 2040 oil supply projections are greatly overstated. Peaking Of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management prepared for the DOE by Robert L. Hirsch, Ph.D. indicates that oil will peak before 2025. Beyond that oil prices will rise dramatically as supply and demand become unbalanced and extraction costs as well as environmental impact rise. Dr. Hirsch’s report is at: http://fusion4freedom.us/peaking-world-oil-production-impacts-mitigation-risk-management/

  13. Andy May “We are in no danger of running out of oil in the next 100 years at least.”

    Oil will never run out, but cheap oil will. We’ve (sensible) extracted the shallow light sweet crude first and the deepest tar will never be extracted. But, there are plenty of other reasons gas might become prohibitively expensive at the filling station and the economy tanks at $100+pb.

    • A theory which totally ignores the improvements in technology which make the oil progressively easier, cheaper and more easily extractable, as demonstrated by the new drilling and seismic analysis technology which is making the originally inaccessible shale oil and gas increasingly cheap and available, of course.

      But hey, the engineers will continue to confound the naysayers, because that’s what we do!

      • First, I was pointing out that “no danger of running out of oil” is a bit of a straw-man. Second, I was thinking more along the lines of ‘oil shocks’.

  14. History is a science of objectivity. And read thoroughly – my comment supports Andy May as WUWT:
    ________________________________________

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Elementary, Andy May –

    ‘The cost of energy is closely correlated to standard of living. In addition, it has often influenced major political decisions, like Germany’s decision to invade Russia or Japan’s decision to bomb Pearl Harbor in World War II.’

    +

    https://www.google.at/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=/amp/s/weaponsandwarfare.com/2015/11/15/hitlers-quest-for-oil/amp/&ved=0

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