Electricity is the new oil, and if you'd like to understand better how clean energy, electric vehicles, and grid technology will profoundly impact the oil market, then you should read Oil Fall, a now completed series that shows how wind and solar power will jailbreak the powergrid, and find their way into global transportation.
In domains from California to Texas, and from Europe and the UK to China, the titanic growth of new power generation from wind and solar is now dominating market share, cutting off growth opportunities for other energy sources. But now the great rollout of electric vehicles, and grid technology, will increasingly exploit this new source of power, depriving oil too of future growth.
The battle for oil's future is already being fought, and will not take place among the 100 million barrels of daily consumption, but rather, within the narrow margin of the 1-2 million barrels of annual growth on which the industry so thoroughly depends. In 2018, when China's car market lurched suddenly towards electric vehicles, the oil market correctly realized that future demand growth was in peril.
Oil Fall is composed of three sections. Part one, California ICE, lays out the template by which California's transportation sector, tranche by tranche, will transition away from oil to electricity. And, because an electric vehicle uses 70% less energy than an ICE vehicle, it will be trivially easy for California to supply all the demand growth EV will need from wind and solar alone. But this is no longer a prediction. The matching of EV growth with new clean energy growth is already underway. In part two, China Sudden Stop, the history of China's revolutionary policy initiatives forms the groundwork for its next act: the killing of future coal growth, and now, through an aggressive EV adoption strategy, the killing of future oil growth. China is in pursuit of the same formula now rolling out in California, but, at a hyper, accelerated pace. While many forecasts anticipated that ICE vehicle growth would start to peak in China early next decade, that peak may now have just occurred as the entire market flipped in 2018 towards EV. Finally, in part three, Waste Crash, the Oil Fall series concludes with an accounting of the enormous waste and lost wealth that occurs each day from fossil fuel combustion. Those domains like China, California, the UK, and Europe that are running ahead of the world towards clean energy will be the early winners of a systemic harvesting operation that will secure large efficiency gains, and economic surpluses. Contrary to current assumptions about costs, it's no longer clear, in fact, that a global transition towards clean energy, distributed over a 20 year period, has anything to offer but gains.
About the author: Gregor Macdonald is a freelance journalist covering cities, climate and the energy sector. He has written for Nature, The Economist Intelligence Unit, The Harvard Business Review, Next City, Atlantic Media’s Route Fifty, The Petroleum Economist, PV Magazine, and Talking Points Memo. You can keep up with his work at Gregor.us
Oil Fall is a three part series that published over the course of 2018. © All rights reserved by the author and TerraJoule Publishing. Fair use of quotes from Oil Fall are permitted, with citation of Oil Fall as the source, and the author’s name, Gregor Macdonald.
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