An earlier AofB post (“ A Peak Ahead? ”, 11 November 2017) described several emerging technologies (cloud computing, 3D VR video, wireless charging, ambulatory robots, 3D printing, etc.) which may cause a significant increase in future energy use as these technologies are deployed at scale.        However, none of these technologies specifically point toward increased oil consumption. And, in fact, in recent years the discussion regarding future oil demand has been couched almost entirely in terms of estimating how quickly electric vehicles (EVs) will initiate a permanent downturn in global fuel use and overall oil demand.     A focus on the threat posed by EVs to the oil market is appropriate since according to the International Energy Agency transportation – by road, air, rail, and sea - accounts for 65% of global oil consumption, with road transport alone accounting for almost half of the total oil demand.    Global Oil Consumption by Sector - 2015

An earlier AofB post (“A Peak Ahead?”, 11 November 2017) described several emerging technologies (cloud computing, 3D VR video, wireless charging, ambulatory robots, 3D printing, etc.) which may cause a significant increase in future energy use as these technologies are deployed at scale.
      
However, none of these technologies specifically point toward increased oil consumption. And, in fact, in recent years the discussion regarding future oil demand has been couched almost entirely in terms of estimating how quickly electric vehicles (EVs) will initiate a permanent downturn in global fuel use and overall oil demand.   

A focus on the threat posed by EVs to the oil market is appropriate since according to the International Energy Agency transportation – by road, air, rail, and sea - accounts for 65% of global oil consumption, with road transport alone accounting for almost half of the total oil demand. 


Global Oil Consumption by Sector - 2015

 The internal combustion engine (ICE) is not ready just yet to hand over the vehicle market to EV, as new and improved engine designs make ICEs greener and far more efficient. Some of these new technologies include:  Gasoline compression ignition (GCI), which uses gasoline to achieve diesel-like efficiencies and boost engine efficiency by 30 percent in a cost-effective manner while also reducing NOx and soot pollutants.  Opposed-piston engines, which utilize two pistons per cylinder working in opposite reciprocating motion and has the potential to achieve efficiencies exceeding those of diesel and gasoline engines by 30 and 50 percent, respectively.  On-board capture and storage of up to 30% of CO2 emissions.   These developments and others hold the promise of making the most efficient ICEs greener than EVs. The carbon footprint of an EV can be constrained due to the carbon intensity of the electrical power grid and the environmental impact of both battery manufacturing and the mining needed to secure sufficient supplies of key battery materials such as lithium and cobalt.  The rate of future ICE technology development relative to that of EV technology development plays a role in Energy Information Administration forecasts which project that combustion engines will still account for more than 90 percent of global transport energy demand in 2050 and that global oil transport demand will continue to rise through mid-century. So don’t fall prey to the idea that EV is erasing the engine, and its oil demand, as we know it. The future might be bright, but it isn’t just electric. 

The internal combustion engine (ICE) is not ready just yet to hand over the vehicle market to EV, as new and improved engine designs make ICEs greener and far more efficient. Some of these new technologies include:

Gasoline compression ignition (GCI), which uses gasoline to achieve diesel-like efficiencies and boost engine efficiency by 30 percent in a cost-effective manner while also reducing NOx and soot pollutants.

Opposed-piston engines, which utilize two pistons per cylinder working in opposite reciprocating motion and has the potential to achieve efficiencies exceeding those of diesel and gasoline engines by 30 and 50 percent, respectively.

On-board capture and storage of up to 30% of CO2 emissions.


These developments and others hold the promise of making the most efficient ICEs greener than EVs. The carbon footprint of an EV can be constrained due to the carbon intensity of the electrical power grid and the environmental impact of both battery manufacturing and the mining needed to secure sufficient supplies of key battery materials such as lithium and cobalt.

The rate of future ICE technology development relative to that of EV technology development plays a role in Energy Information Administration forecasts which project that combustion engines will still account for more than 90 percent of global transport energy demand in 2050 and that global oil transport demand will continue to rise through mid-century. So don’t fall prey to the idea that EV is erasing the engine, and its oil demand, as we know it. The future might be bright, but it isn’t just electric.