To hear the people who run OPEC tell it, the world will continue to consume oil in prodigious quantities for at least the next 50 years, come Hell or rising sea levels. Basically, it thinks the people of the world are too stupid and too weak to stop burning fossil fuels. EVs? Forget about them. Never gonna happen, says OPEC in a new 470 page report.
“Without a technology breakthrough, battery electric vehicles are not expected to gain significant market share in the foreseeable future,” it said. “Electric cars cost too much. Their range is too short. The batteries are defective in hot or cold conditions.” Even though battery prices may fall 50% or more over the next 20 years, EVs will not appeal to mainstream shoppers due to “consumer resistance,” the report says.
OPEC does acknowledge the climate accord reached earlier this month in Paris may signal trouble for the coal industry, but thinks oil production will continue on at about the same level far into the future. In fact, it salivates over the prospect of a some global crisis that will increase demand and drive prices higher again. Who knows? Maybe GM will revive the Hummer brand, so Americans can drive 10 mile per gallon pseudo-armored vehicles to work again.
The inevitability of price fluctuations is one of the leading factors driving a shift away from fossil fuels. The price of sunlight and wind never changes — both are free and will be forever. Two winters ago, Americans were paying $4.00 a gallon for heating oil. Today, the price is less than half that. The uncertainty of future prices is one of the factors driving the market for rooftop residential solar.
The world’s major automakers are pouring billions into making better EVs. China wants 90% of new cars to be electric soon. Geely Motors says it will hit that target just 5 years from now. Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW are rushing plug-in hybrid and electric cars to market. Ford and GM are stepping up their investments in electric cars. The Japanese manufacturers are betting heavily on fuel cell technology.
The number of cars in the world is projected to increase rapidly in coming decades, but most of them will not run on gasoline. Where does OPEC think its projected growth in the oil market is going to come from? People may still doubt the science about rising sea levels and melting ice caps, but from Beijing to Paris, Milan to Rome, polluted air is telling residents that they are being slowly poisoned by the very air they breathe. People can’t see the oceans flooding Pago Pago, but they can feel the burning in their lungs as they gasp their way through the work day.
15 years ago, former Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, said in an interview with the Telegraph that a moment of reckoning was coming for the oil industry. He specifically mentioned fuel cell technology as one of the principal factors that would alter the energy landscape. “Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil — and no buyers,” he said. “Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, [but] not because we had a lack of stones.”
Within OPEC, nobody is listening to Sheikh Yamani’s words today.