Driving away from the oil economy

Posted on April 3, 2008. Filed under: Vehicles |

From a presentation by Michael Vickerman at the Green Vehicles Workshop sponsored by the Milwaukee Area Technical College:

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” – Kenneth BouldingHow effective will magical thinking [in unending growth] be in dealing with these world-transforming problems?

Magical thinking rests on the following assumptions, according to Vickerman:

+ We don’t need to change our driving habits
+ We can find convenient substitutes for oil
+ We don’t have to worry about mobilizing the capital needed to invest in successor energy sources
+ We can support complex societies with less energetic fuel sources
+ We don’t need to re-engineer the built environment

Vickerman argues that “renewable electricity is a superior alternative to biofuels for transporting people” for the following reasons:

“+ Higher EROEI, creating more wealth
+ Cheaper: 50 miles/two gallons gasoline – $6.60 50 miles/12 kWh windpower – $1.60
+ Less price volatility – electricity is a regulated product – in contrast, diesel prices have increased 33% over the last 12 months – $2.60 to $3.90/gallon
+ Easy to access – plug in your vehicle
+ Energy storage (battery lifespan and expense) remains an issue, limiting mobility and convenience

Vickerman concludes by asking:

[C]an we change our current habits and attitudes to transition into a less mobile but more sustainable future relying on renewable energy flows and low-EROEI energy stores?


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