Alternate Fuels Will Power 1/3 World’s Vehicles By 2030

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1We already possess sufficient clean alternatives to take over from most fossil fuels. Only, the world’s economies are market driven. Clean technologies need to be competitively priced before mass adoption is possible. Some argue this will change as the true cost of fossil fuels becomes more evident. A new Lux Research report uses a more conservative approach, when it predicts alternate fuels will power of the 1/3 world’s vehicles by 2030.

Oil’s Dominant Position

Graphic Courtesy Lux Research – click to enlarge

“Oil’s dominant position in transportation fuels has proved impregnable for more than a century, but real threats abound now,” said Brent Giles, Lux Research Director and lead author of DEALING WITH THREATS TO THE TRANSPORTATION FUEL OIL INDUSTRY.

He writes,”Transportation fuels, which account for some 80% of global crude oil demand, is the lifeblood of the industry. As an extremely dense but affordable energy source, oil powers 1.2 billion vehicles globally that use 800 billion gallons of fuel per year.”1

Not Find Terms Like “Climate Change”

You will not find terms like “climate change,” “extreme weather events,” or “environment” in this report. Nor is there any mention of the costs arising from:  air pollution; climate threats to plants, fish and wildlife; acid rain, ocean acidification or water pollution.

A recent report from the Overseas Development Institute states G20 nations are paying $452 billion a year in subsidizes, public financing and state owned fossil fuel firm investments – but Lux does not mention subsidies.

There are numerous references to the threats from emissions regulations. Here are thee samples:

“Advances in technology have eliminated the peak oil theory, but regulations may forcefully impose peak carbon instead.”2

“Growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions is creating an uneven playing field tilted against conventional fossil fuel.”3

“Government regulations have had a profound impact on the transportation fuels market. It has been the catalyst that has empowered gasoline and diesel substitutes like biofuels and electricity from an academic research project into a credible industry threat in many major markets.” 4

Alternate Fuels Will Power 1/3 World’s Vehicles By 2030

I suspect the author of this report has had only a limited exposure to electric vehicles. Far from being simply an environmentally friendly alternative to “gas cars,” most owners appear to think of EVs as “just better vehicles, in almost every way.” They leave one with the impression that gas cars are destined to become museum pieces, alongside steam locomotives and horse drawn chariots. The tipping point, for mass adoption, is expected after EVs reach price compatibility

Another factor that this Lux Report does not consider is the demise of the automotive culture in many European cities. A 2012 study found that two third’s of Berlin’s population did not own cars.

“If I want to drive a car, I rent one,” a young Berlin based executive told me.

Some North American cities are also developing alternative means of transportation (walking, bicycles, mass transportation).

The LUX report is clearly written by someone whose thinking has not gone beyonds the constraints of North Americas automotive culture. This makes its’ conclusion, that alternate fuels will power of the 1/3 world’s vehicles by 2030, even more significant:

“Even in the case of moderate adoption, biofuels would be a $220 billion industry worth a 13% share of transportation fuels in 2030. Meanwhile electric vehicles are approaching an inflection point between 2035 and 2040 where half of all cars sold will be plug-ins. All told 31% of global vehicles will be running on alternative fuels in 2030, and the drop in demand will make typical oil production in the U.K., Brazil, Canada and parts of the U.S. uneconomical.”

Top Photo Credit: Gas Pumps by Richard Elsey via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Show 4 footnotes

  2. ibid, p 11
  3. ibid, p 12
  4. ibid, p 10

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