Thursday, 16 April 2009

Cars without Oil - Can it be done?

One of the recurring themes here and in other oil depletion blogs is the problem of cars. There are about 800 million oil powered motor vehicles on the roads of the world. That number is estimated to go up by a few hundred million by 2020 - even if the economy doesn't recover to BAU levels.

This poses many questions from the point of view of peak oil:

  • Assuming near and sharp oil peak, where is the energy going to come from to power the cars?
  • If not oil or brain dead bio-fuels, what is the fuel & and the energy carrier?
  • Who's going to build the new cars?
  • Which country is going to adopt this new system - requiring massive investments in infrastructure?
  • Car fleet replacement rate is c. 2% p.a. - how long time will the transformation take?
  • Who's going to fund all this massive investment?
  • Can it be made economic to compete with ICE cars?
  • Will it cut down our CO2 emissions?

Well, looks like Shai Agassi's (ex-SAP/Oracle) new company Better Place is asking exactly these questions and trying to answer them.

Below is Agassi's presentation from TED on the issue. Very good points and worth spending 20 minutes on, even if you don't share his optimism about replacing the worlds cars in a decade or so. Also, it is a very good showcase of rhetoric - enough data points to convince, emotions to draw you in, morality to remove defenses and hope to make you believe.

We need more people and examples like this. What can you do?