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2030Technology That Will Change the World$
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Rutger van Santen, Djan Khoe, and Bram Vermeer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377170

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195377170.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

Improving Energy Effi ciency

Improving Energy Effi ciency

2.2000000000000002 Improving Energy Effi ciency

Rutger van Santen

Djan Khoe

Bram Vermeer

Oxford University Press

Imminent climate change is indeed an “inconvenient truth” that will oblige us to alter our energy use long before we begin to experience any shortage of crude oil or natural gas. Warnings about our climate come at a time when nothing would otherwise appear to stop us from using fossil energy sources for several more decades. Indeed, never before in the history of our civilization has the outlook for our continuing use of mineral oil looked so comforting. In the early 1970s, there were only 25 years’ worth of known oil reserves at the consumption levels of the time. Now, at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, we can look forward to 42 more years of oil, even though consumption rates have almost doubled in comparison to the 1970s. Newly discovered oilfields and technologies have more than compensated for increasing demand. Known reserves are now at their highest level since we began to keep systematic statistics. That doesn’t mean that progress with regard to our energy supply will be smooth; changes come in shocks, as we will see in this chapter. We are likely to witness crisis after crisis in the years ahead. And the tangible heating of our Earth will make the crises worse. There has been a passionate worldwide debate for decades now about the precise timing of peak oil—the moment when oil production hits its maximum level and then begins to decline until there is no longer any left that is economically viable to extract. Yet peak oil predictions invariably prove incorrect. Each time, it turns out we can extract more oil from the ground than we previously thought. One alarming calculation after another has fallen by the wayside, as we also showed in the introduction to this book (chapter 0.2). Outbreaks of panic well up with each new wave in energy prices. Just before the credit crisis of 2008, oil prices were at a record high, and prophecies of the end of the oil era were abundant.

Keywords:   agent technology, batteries, climate change, evolution, fossil energy, globalization, power grids, refineries, self-organized criticality, water

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