Amory Lovins recently wrote a book called, "Winning
the Oil End Game" and gave a presentation at Rice University last night.
The thesis of the book is that, "it will cost less to displace all of the
oil that the United States now uses than it will cost to buy that
Without change, current trends show the US
increasing oil consumption from 20 Mbbl/day in 2000 to 27 Mbbl/day in
2025. Worldwide oil consumption is trended to double between 2000 and
2025. There is a risk that such an increase will disrupt world
peace, halt the US economy, and cause damage to health and the
environment. Even if none of these occur, there are, and will be
more, alternatives to oil consumption that cost less.
The US made such efficiency changes
between 1977 and 1983, during which oil consumption was reduced by 17%, while
GDP grew by 27%. Amory claims this type of change can occur
The largest factor - The US can reduce its
predicted oil usage in 2025 by 22 to 40%, by making lightweight,
efficient vehicles (not smaller, rather electric hybrid drives and
carbon composite structures). He describes how these
vehicles will be cheaper to make and safer than today's steel
vehicles. Foreign auto makers are doing it and if the Big3 don't do it,
they will be out of a market.
Second largest factor - The US can
displace oil with biofuels up to 15% of predicted 2025 consumption at a
competitive cost of $26/bbl (more if the price of oil is higher). The
technology considered in the economic calculations was converting cellulose
(such as switchgrass) to ethanol. Case in point is Brazil where 22% of
their fuel comes from ethanol with no subsidies needed (even though the
technology is not state of the art).
Several other efficiency gains could be made in
manufacturing and electricity usage that reduce oil consumption directly or
indirectly. These were calculated to account for another 10% or
In his analysis to 2025, he assumed use of
only currently available technologies. By 2050, new
technologies now emerging could economically displace oil until its
consumption rates are pre-1900 levels.
If you have interest in investigating the
details further, you can download the book for free at www.oilendgame.com