The oil cartel is living in a time-warp, seemingly unaware that global energy politics have changed forever
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.telegraph.co.uk
“…OPEC says battery costs may fall by 30-50pc over the next quarter century but doubts that this will be enough to make much difference, due to “consumer resistance”.
This is a brave call given that Apple and Google have thrown their vast resources into the race for plug-in vehicles, and Tesla’s Model 3s will be on the market by 2017 for around $35,000.
Ford has just announced that it will invest $4.5bn in electric and hybrid cars, with 13 models for sale by 2020. Volkswagen is to unveil its “completely new concept car” next month, promising a new era of “affordable long-distance electromobility.”
The OPEC report is equally dismissive of Toyota’s decision to bet its future on hydrogen fuel cars, starting with the Mirai as a loss-leader. One should have thought that a decision by the world’s biggest car company to end all production of petrol and diesel cars by 2050 might be a wake-up call.
Goldman Sachs expects ‘grid-connected vehicles’ to capture 22pc of the global market within a decade, with sales of 25m a year, and by then – it says – the auto giants will think twice before investing any more money in the internal combustion engine. Once critical mass is reached, it is not hard to imagine a wholesale shift to electrification in the 2030s. […]
A team of Cambridge chemists says it has cracked the technology of a lithium-air battery with 90pc efficiency, able to power a car from London to Edinburgh on a single charge. It promises to cut costs by four-fifths, and could be on the road within a decade.
There is now a global race to win the battery prize. The US Department of Energy is funding a project by the universities of Michigan, Stanford, and Chicago, in concert with the Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories. The Japan Science and Technology Agency has its own project in Osaka. South Korea and China are mobilising their research centres.
A regulatory squeeze is quickly changing the rules of global energy.The Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics counts 800 policies and laws aimed at curbing emissions worldwide.
Goldman Sachs says the model to watch is Norway, where electric vehicles already command 16.3pc of the market. The switch has been driven by tax exemptions, priority use of traffic lanes, and a forest of charging stations.
California is following suit. It has a mandatory 22pc target for ‘grid-connected’ vehicles within ten years. New cars in China will have to meet emission standards of 5 litres per 100km by 2020, even stricter than in Europe. […]
In the meantime, OPEC revenues have crashed from $1.2 trillion in 2012 to nearer $400bn at today’s Brent price of $36.75, with fiscal and regime pain to match.
This policy has eroded global spare capacity to a wafer-thin 1.5m b/d, leaving the world vulnerable to a future shock. It implies a far more volatile market in which prices gyrate wildly, eroding confidence in oil as a reliable source of energy.
The more that this Saudi policy succeeds, the quicker the world will adopt policies to break reliance on its only product. As internal critics in Riyadh keep grumbling, the strategy is suicide.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are lucky. They have been warned in advance that OPEC faces slow-run off. The cartel has 25 years to prepare for a new order that will require far less oil.
If they have any planning sense, they will manage the market to ensure crude prices of $70 to $80. They will eke out their revenues long enough to control spending and train their people for a post-petrol economy, rather than clinging to 20th Century illusions.
Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister, warned in aninterview with the Telegraph fifteen years ago that this moment of reckoning was coming and he specifically cited fuel-cell technologies.
“Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones.”
They did not listen to him then, and they are not listening now.”