Apr 2, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
The most global environmental group has just released a milestone report, "Plugged-in: the End of the Oil Age." It's written by an oil industry insider who I see as having come over from the "dark side." It concludes that the electrification of transportation is a way out from our 95 per cent reliance on liquid fossil fuels.
REPORT'S ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT: We have long been surprised that, compared to other constituencies, much of the global environmental community has been slow to recognize the benefits and near-term practicality of plug-in cars. We hope this report will help move them forward. We encourage our readers to forward this email to organizations of which they are members.
ABOUT WWF: It's still known in the US and Canada as the World Wildlife Fund, but since 1986 everywhere else it's The World Wide Fund for Nature. With its panda logo, Wikipedia says it's "the world's largest independent conservation organization with over 5 million supporters worldwide, working in more than 90 countries, supporting 15,000 conservation and environmental projects around the world." WWF says it "proposes solutions to stop the degradation of planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Combatting climate change and reducing threats to biodiversity on land and sea are among the key priorities for WWF’s work." The organization, headquartered in Switzerland, has a decentralized structure, and works with governments, corporations and non-governmental organizations globally -- so its endorsement is very significant. (If "environment" doesn't come to mind when you hear "WWF," it now should: after a legal battle several years ago, the Worldwide Wrestling Federation changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment -- WWE.)
ABOUT THE REPORT AND ITS AUTHOR: We encourage you to download the entire 202-page report, not just the summary and read most or all of it. (You'll see why when you look at the full table of contents at end end of this post.) It's a very broad evaluation of the entire range of fuel and societal options. It's illuminating and entertainingly written. It doesn't read like a study put together by a committee, but rather by an expert who is not afraid to combine careful analysis with entertaining color and real emotion. Here's how the press release describes the report's principal author, who held a range of positions at Exxon-Mobile and now works out of the European Policy Office: Dr Gary Kendall is Senior Energy Business and Policy Analyst for the WWF Global Climate Change and Energy Programme based in Brussels. He joined WWF in 2006 after nine years in the petroleum industry in Europe and Asia. He holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Liverpool.
SURPRISING/LITTLE KNOWN INFORMATION: In addition to its analysis, it brings together much that hasn't been broadly seen or understood. My favorite example, which demonstrates the challenge the world faces in evolving to low-carbon solutions: report page 25 (PDF page 27) is a page I've printed out to show people anytime. Here's the caption: Figure 5: The ranking of the top fifty global corporations by revenue in 2006 shows the economic dominance of petroleum-based automotive transport. Nine of the top ten and nineteen of the top fifty companies operate in either "Petroleum Refining" or "Motor Vehicles," contributing 46% of revenue. (Data source: Fortune Magazine)
DOWNLOADS: The report is currently highlighted on the WWF home page http://www.panda.org
WWF'S PAGE DESCRIBING THE REPORT: Cars should plug-in to a new future: WWF http://www.panda.org/index.cfm?uNewsID=129321
CAPTIONS (third photo shows a CalCars 100+MPG PHEV): -New analysis from WWF shows that the alternative to a 95 per cent reliance on polluting, climate damaging and insecure liquid fuels is already here -The dirtier, more energy intensive and climate damaging future of liquid fuels - extracting oil sands in Canada -More efficient and more climate friendly - hybrid electric vehicles win on both counts even with majority fossil fuelled electricity grids and will only get better as more renewable energy sources are used for power generation. -From electric cars to electric vehicles - scooters, bicycles and personal transporters are adding new options to mobility
Gland, Switzerland / Brussels, Belgium: Dramatically expanded use of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles would be a way to a transport future that doesn't risk climate catastrophe, a major new WWF analysis has found.
Such a move would also reduce the risk of conflict over less oil more and more concentrated in relatively unstable areas of the world.
Plugged In: The End of the Oil Age considers the future of a transport sector now 95 per cent dependent on liquid hydrocarbon fuels and examines the impacts and practicalities of electric, coal-to-liquid, gas-to-liquid, natural gas and hydrogen powered transport for the future
It finds that vehicles running solely or partly on grid-connected electricity are more efficient and less greenhouse gas intensive than all alternatives, even with most power now being generated using fossil fuels.
The report also finds that cleaner power generation and more use of renewable fuels in power generation will make it certain that the comparative efficiency and pollution advantages of plug-in transport will improve into the future, while the future of liquid fuels is one of increasing resort to dirtier sources that will take more energy to turn into fuels.
“We should all be relying more on walking and biking, on buses and trains, to get to where we need to go. But cars will inevitably remain a major part of the transport equation," said James Leape, Director General of WWF International.
"The cars of the future must be much more efficient -- smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic -- and they should, increasingly, be powered by electricity,”
As oil becomes more difficult to access, techniques to create liquid fuels from coal are now being vigorously pursued in the US, China, India, Australia and South Africa.
“Coal-to-liquid fuels are costly, energy intensive and extremely polluting, and have previously only been used on any significant scale in countries facing a state of emergency,” said report author Dr Gary Kendall.
Other alternatives to traditional oil extraction include exploitation of oil sands, which generates three times the emissions of petroleum processing and causes devastation to the local environment. Natural gas suffers from similar looming supply uncertainties to oil and makes its greatest beneficial climate impact by displacing coal in heat and power generation.
The report also finds that the electric vehicles can be three times more efficient than hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. More importantly perhaps, electric vehicles can be widely introduced using existing technologies and distribution infrastructure.
“Automotive transport is ripe for transformation,” said Dr Kendall. “We need to accelerate the commercialisation of vehicles with diversified primary energy sources, high efficiency and compatibility with a sustainable, renewable energy future. The electrification of automotive transport offers a promising way to achieve this objective.”
To do so, the report recommends dismantling market barriers to superior technologies and removing a host of hidden and overt subsidies to liquid fuel use. Vehicles should be subject to similar energy labelling and efficiency improvement requirements as other energy-consuming appliances. Liquid-based measures of fuel economy (e.g. litres per 100km or miles per gallon) and CO2 emissions targets should be replaced with technology-neutral indicators of energy consumed per kilometre.
“We cannot depend upon today’s dominant transport solution providers to drive the shift away from liquid hydrocarbon fuels,” Dr Kendall said. “Other business sectors – such as power utilities for instance – will come to the fore in recognizing the business opportunities of grid-connected transport.
“But ultimately, leadership on moving to the best transport fuel mix will need to come from governments."
PLUGGED IN TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS 6
PART I CONTEXT 15
Lessons from History 16 Wonderful Crude Oil 17 Transport Equals Oil 19 Oil Equals Power 24 Oil Security 27 High Oil Prices and Their Effects 29 Peak Oil 32 The Rise of National Oil Companies 33
PART II OIL, TRANSPORT AND CLIMATE CHANGE 37
Structure of the Oil Industry 39 Oil versus Transport 41 A Boost for Renewables? 42 Core Business 47 Unconventional Oils 48 Oil Sands 50 Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) 55 Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) 58 The Convergence of Transport and Power 64
PART III A DIFFERENT ROAD 67
The End of the ICE Age 67 Escaping Lock-in 68 Transformational Change 70 Disruptive Technologies 72 The Great American Streetcar Scandal 74 “Beyond Petroleum” 75 The China Factor 76 250 Million Vehicles 76
PART IV THE ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN 79
Life-cycle Analysis 79 Electrons versus Liquids 82 CO2 Emissions 86 Resource Efficiency 91 Stationary Emissions 97 Technology Options 98 Limitations of Battery Electric Vehicles 98 The Rise of the Hybrid 104 The Ultimate Flexible Fuel Vehicle 107 A Boost for Renewables? 110 Grid-Connected Vehicles in Practice 112 Battery Electric Vehicles 112 Plug-in Hybrids 116 Fuelling the Plug-in 120 Residual Liquid Demand 120 How Much New Electricity? 122 Electricity is Not Just for Cars 125 Electric Buses, Trucks, and Vans 125 Electric Two-wheelers 127
PART V OTHER ALTERNATIVE FUELS 129
Hydrocarbon Gases 130 Liquefied Petroleum Gas 130 Compressed Natural Gas 131 Growth and Dependency 132 Oil Companies and the Hydrogen Highway 133 Blinkered to the Range of Solutions 135 The Hydrogen Car is an Electric Car 136 The Hydrogen Economy 137 Hydrogen Production 138 Hydrogen Distribution and Storage 141 Hydrogen Fuel Cells 142 Well-to-Wheel Comparison of Fuel Cell and Plug-in Electric Vehicles 143 Hydrogen in Internal Combustion 147 The Hydrogen Future 147
PART VI HOW TO GET THERE 151
Policy Options 151 Picking winners? 152 An Integrated Approach 153 Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards 154 CO2 Intensity of Energy 157 Zero-Emission Vehicle Mandates 159 Consumer Incentives 160 Infrastructure 162 Taxation 162 Government Research 163 Public Procurement 163 Emerging Business Models 164 Car Conversions 164 Car Sharing Clubs 165 Mass Transit Partnerships 167 Energy Services 167 International Oil Companies 168 Unintended Consequences 170 Battery Impacts 170 A Boost for Nukes? 171 Induced Demand 172 Geographical Focus 173 North America 174 European Union 175 Japan 175 Rapidly Emerging Economies 176
PART VII CONCLUSIONS 179