Magazine article Geographical

Twin Peaks

Magazine article Geographical

Twin Peaks

Article excerpt

Geographical's regular look at the world of climate change. This month, Marco Magrini looks back at 'Peak Oil'

Do you remember Peak Oil? The theory maintained that oil production was about to reach a plateau followed by a permanent state of decline, with spiralling barrel prices and frightening shortages at the pump. The idea had geological and statistical foundations, yet failed to take technological evolution into account, as oil companies managed to tap into shale oil, tar sands and ultra-deepwater oil fields. Now, there is some evidence that the world may be heading in the opposite direction, towards a 'reverse Peak Oil'. Not a plateauing in supply, but rather a tapering off in demand. 'Demand for oil in the early 2020s,' Statoil's CEO Eldar Saetre said a few weeks ago, 'can reach a peak and start to slow down. After that we will see a shrinking oil industry.' Why? Because the electric car revolution is about to take off.

With 1.2 million electric vehicles roaming the planet's roads, being just 0.1 per cent of the world's fleet and displacing a mere 0.01 per cent of oil consumption, the forecast may seem a tad bold. Yet, something is happening. According to the International Energy Agency, an impressive 153 gigawatts of clean electricity was installed in 2015, with 500,000 solar panels deployed every day and two wind turbines coming online every hour. …

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