Tuesday 21 May 2019

Increase in electric vehicles isn't the end of the road for oil

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Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

In 2016 electric vehicles represented about 1pc of global vehicle sales.

However, by 2030 demand for such vehicles could rise to almost 20pc of annual global sales, according to a report from consulting firm McKinsey.

Increased adoption of electric vehicles will have an impact on more and different natural resources, as well as multiple industries, geographies, and levels of carbon emissions.

Despite the projected increase in demand for electric vehicles, this will not spell the end of peak demand for oil. Instead, having more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road is expected to reduce oil demand only modestly over the next 10 to 15 years, according to the report.

McKinsey estimates that the extent to which there is downward pressure on oil demand will in fact come largely from improvements in vehicle engine efficiency and from making vehicles more lightweight.

Already these efficiencies have been increasing at about 2pc per year since 2005, which has seen the average kilometres per gallon for a standard internal combustion engine vehicle in the US increase to 52km today from 42km in 2005.

These efficiencies are expected to continue to rise at more than 2.5pc per year through to 2025.

Instead of the global demand for oil reducing, it is expected that demand for oil will continue to increase overall, in particular from a number of sources including industries such as chemicals and aviation, as well as growing regions, in particular China and other emerging markets, and the sale of more cars globally.

However, one commodity that is set to be significantly hit by increasing demand for electric vehicles is natural gas.

More electric vehicles means that more electricity will have to be produced.

While coal will be part of the equation, McKinsey estimates that in the US, which is expected to be one of the larger markets for electric vehicles, approximately 80pc of the forecast growth in electricity demand is expected to be met with natural gas.

If half of the automobiles on American roads were electric vehicles, daily natural-gas demand in the US would be expected to increase by more than 20pc, the consulting firm finds.

The rise in popularity of electric vehicles is also expected to have an impact on land use around the world.

There are currently more than 400,000 public charging points that support the more than three million electric vehicles now in use globally.

However, this number will have to rise significantly to meet the global electric vehicle-adoption increases forecast by 2030.

According to McKinsey, simply replacing gas stations with charging points or adding more charging points that are the size of filling stations won't be sufficient to service the expected number of electric vehicles.

Instead, it will take multiple rapid 120-kilowatt charging to dispense a similar amount of range per hour as the standard-size filling station of today.

The possibility of a land squeeze will be much greater in Europe and China than in the US, where more people have access to private parking and wall charges.

Irish Independent

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