What if we had to transition from oil in a hurry ? The goal would be to get to electrified transportion, some biofuels, and an energy efficient economy.
So the transition is conservation, drill in ANWR and elsewhere, more oil from the oilsands and shale, temporarily ramp up biofuels and alternatives, ramp up nuclear and wind and solar, convert to more efficient cars, trucks, rail, planes, ships and industry and shift from liquids to electrification. Shift more freight from trucks to barges and rail.
Conservation measures can be initiated and strengthened when necessary.
55mph speed limit saved (380000 gallons per day back in the 1970s in the USA)
Increased fuel use for transporation (around double the 1970s usage) Fuel saving of 750,000 gallons per day from 55 mph speed limit in the USA
Carpooling, transit, odd-even and other measures can reduce fuel usage by 8-15% right away and several can be sustained without harming the economy. A mid-term transition would be to require and setup satellite offices and wifi buses and trains (so that people could be productive while travelling on transit)
If peak oil hit, ANWR would be drilled. Which is basically an emergency fuel reserve of perhaps 10.3 billion barrels *(mean estimate). It would take a few years to being online and would supply about 1.4 million barrels per day.
More Nuclear power plants are being licensed now in the USA and around the world. The past peak was 12 reactors completed in one year in the USA. The US economy is over twice as large now. Full (non-emergency production of nuclear plants in the USA would be twenty-four 1.5 GW reactors completed per year and could be at that level by 2020. Business as usual production could be far higher if a climate change bill is passed which would make coal more expensive. There has already been the legislation in place to ensure that about 32 new nuclear reactors will be built by 2024
EIA projection based on climate change bill passage
Diesel and truck engine efficiency work is well under way. Which could double diesel and truck efficiency over the 2010-2020 rollout period.
Electrification of vehicles
There are 60 million electric scooters and bicycles in China already. By 2015 there could be 500 million in China. This would be the faster and easier route for the rest of the world as well. The vehicles can go at 55 mph (72 volt versions). There can be GPS enforcement of 55mph limits. Folding electric bikes are compatible with transit. Major transition conversion possible if needed by 2015.
In the US biodiesel : Total biodiesel production shot up from 25 million gallons in 2004 to 250 million gallons last year. Worldwide biofuel is at 51 billion liters (about 13 billion gallons) in 2007. USA production projection of 2.5 to 3.5 billion gallons by 2010. 7.5 billion gallons of biofuels per year by 2012
If it was required a draconian conservation scheme could be instituted for 5 years to reduce fuel usage by 50% or more (WW2 style conservation, rationing) and then a mobilized effort to convert to electrification. After which the economy would be completely sustainable and able to grow again.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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