Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Shell: Oil Is Not The Future Of Transportation

October 23rd, 2013 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

Earlier this year, Shell released its most recent future energy scenario report, New Lens Scenarios (check out the PDF here). One of the big highlights, in my eyes, was that one of the scenarios (Oceans) projected that solar energy would become the largest source of energy by 2070. However, another big projection that someone recently picked out of the report is that the world of passenger vehicles could be nearly oil-free by 2070.

shell passenger transport future

From the Mountains scenario (the not-as-green one): “By 2070, the passenger road market could be nearly oil-free and towards the end of the century an extensive hydrogen infrastructure rollout displaces oil demand for long haul and heavy loads. By this time, electricity and hydrogen may dominate, and affordable, plug-in, hybrid hydrogen vehicles offer the ultimate in flexibility and efficiency.”

As I noted when I first wrote about this Shell report, Shell’s cleantech projections might sound optimistic to a lay reader, but other (non-oil) companies and nonprofits have put forth much more optimistic projections and scenarios, ones in which solar energy and electric vehicles come to dominate much sooner. Shell, even if it is clear that we are moving away from oil, is trying to push a related resource it could tap for trillions of dollars — natural gas. To read its report or projections without paying attention to that would be to miss one of the key reasons Shell pumped time and money into this report.

But the key takeaway point does stand: even Shell realizes that a cleantech revolution is underway.

The second takeaway point is simply: Shell’s projections see the cleantech revolution happening very slowly, because that is what Shell is pushing for.

Don’t miss the second point for the first one, but certainly do go and parade this first point. It would be nice to think that only an illogical Fox News–brainwashed troll would think that cleantech is not the future of energy. But the truth is: a lot of common people don’t realize that cleantech is the future. Share the news!

h/t Motley Fool & Autoblog Green

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Stacy Clarkson

    Natural gas is future of transportation….

    • Bob_Wallace

      Highly unlikely.

  • Pieter Siegers

    I think Shell is trying to let itself look like ‘the good guy’ by saying it’s moving away from oil and on the long run we’ll use renewables (of course that must be), but in between they push LNG and that is just another fossil fuel. So once again they’re just moving the problem ahead while the planet is getting hotter and wilder. Thanks for nothing Shell you don’t fool me. You just want to secure your business, as usual. And now you’re with your new friend Gazprom from Russia and they’ve (and thus you also) busted 30 Greenpeacers in Murmansk protesting against Arctic drilling… seems like you two are trying to draw attention to ‘bad oil’ while doing other business, and yes you’re doing it (pushing LNG as hard as you can).

  • Doug

    It would be good if the media would pick up on the revelation that the large oil companies are forming a consensus that gasoline is being slowly phased out. This would be a shock to many Americans.

    The proposed replacement, hybrid H2 fuel cells, is a fantasy. Transitioning from a gasoline to a H2-based infrastructure requires investment of trillions of dollars and capital investment. Without huge subsidies, this transition will never occur.

  • In my opinion the key point in Shell’s report is however their promotion of natural gas. I don’t think that it is oil-free economy that motivates Shell (one of the biggest oil companies in the world) to care about cleantech revolution, but rather trillions of dollars of natural gas market.

    Today there is a huge lobbing of LNG (liquefied natural gas) as a transport fuel, especially in Europe. LNG is not totally clean fuel, but it can completely cut sulphur emissions and reduce CO2 emissions by 20-25%. So, some leading energy companies have started to use these facts in order to promote natural gas as a short-term solution toward oil-free economy.

    There are even some regulations that have been recently approved to favor LNG development. For example, the limits for sulphur content in marine fuels will be decreased from 1 % to 0.1 % from 1 January 2015 in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel. (It will concern about a half of 10000 ships currently engaged in intra-EU shipping). Sulphur limits will be also decreased from 3.5% to 0.5% globally from 1 January 2020. So, it will be required for ships to pass from heavy fuel oil to ultra-low sulphur marine gasoil or to LNG.

    So, I think that on the way to oil-free transport, we will be obliged anyway to pass through intermediate semi-clean technologies favorable to oil companies.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    Elon Musk on “hydrogen economy”. Hydrogen is not suitable even for rocket fuel.

    Elon Musk Calls Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars ‘Bullsh*t’

    • Bob_Wallace

      Naw, Elon says that hydrogen ground transportation is bullshit, but hydrogen is fine for rockets.

      He bases his statement on the cost of building a hydrogen infrastructure along with EV batteries having higher energy density than hydrogen. I’m not sure if he’s saying that batteries contain more energy per kg or if placing a fuel cell between energy storage and the electric motor makes it essentially so.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        He said that hydrogen is only good in rocket’s upper stage fuel cells. However I find this remark odd, because I have not heard that fuel cells are used in spacecrafts. I guess that he confused them that ISS and other manned spacecrafts uses reverse fuel cells, where oxygen is generated by splitting water.

        Perhaps apollo era spacecrafts used fuel cells also for electricity generation. But today solar panels + batteries are superior.

        Elon and SpaceX uses kerosene in launch vehicles and he has bashed hydrogen as a rocket fuel in other occasions. Elon thinks that methane is future of rocket fuel and SpaceX is already developing affordable methane rocket engine. Methane is cheaper than rocket grade kerosene.

        He said that the both volumetric and joules per kg are worse even in the best case. So fuel cells will always be inferior even to today’s Model S batteries. And Battery tech certainly won’t stand still during the next few decades!

        • Wayne Williamson

          The shuttle had fuel cells that worked with oxygen and hydrogen.

          • Jouni Valkonen

            Yes, there was no solar panels in space shuttle. But solar panels have improved quite significantly since 1970’s when space shuttle was designed. Dragon spacecraft has solar panels.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Yep. However now Musk is testing a new engine called the “raptor” in Mississippi that will be methane based.

        Musk says “The energy cost of methane is the lowest and it has a slight Isp (specific impulse) advantage over kerosene,” said Musk, adding that “it does not have the pain-in-the-ass factor that hydrogen has”

        Apparently methane is the easiest to “harvest” off of Mars. Mars according to Musk is now possibly only 11 years off. (Best case scenario.)

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