Back in 2004 when I first discovered peak oil one late night after a very bad few weeks in hospital with my sick son, I basically freaked out. At the time, nothing appeared to be able to scale up and replace oil. It was just too much liquid fuel to replace too fast. At the time peak oil looked more alarming than global warming. I had images of us hitting a Greater Depression by now, or worse. But now, I’m not so sure peak oil will be that catastrophic. It’ll probably result in quite a bit of economic disruption in the first world, but maybe not the social disruption and collapse I visualised.
This change in position comes from considering the new developments in Fracking. Sadly, it seems we can now economically recover far more gas than I previously thought. Cars can be rejigged to burn gas instead of oil. This is good news for alleviating peak oil, but very bad news from a climate point of view. I’d rather us consider how to rezone our cities into more European styled New Urbanism with trolley buses and trains than save the car; especially if saving the car means wrecking our fragile climate.
However, it’s not all bad news. I believe in a ‘car disciplined’ society where most of us can get by most of the time without a car. Car clubs and subscriptions and sharing schemes would replace owning a car or van unless your business really, really needed it.
And when you absolutely have to have a car, it’s nice to read that Electric Cars are gradually improving in cost. They’re still far, far too expensive. Take a small new car of about $15 000 and double that price if it’s electric. But here is the trend. Green Car Reports says:
Reuters reports that the average price of an electric vehicle-grade battery fell 14 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2012.
The Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report reveals that every kilowatt-hour of a battery pack now costs $689, down from around $800/kWh this time last year. In 2009, it cost over $1,000/kWh.
For a pure battery electric car, the cost of the battery typically makes up 25 percent of the cost of the vehicle.
If the trend continues, analysts predict that by 2030, batteries could cost as little as $150/kWh, in 2012 dollars. That would bring down the cost of a Nissan Leaf‘s 24 kWh battery pack from approximately $16,500 at today’s prices, to as little as $3,600 (pre-inflation).