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The Potential for Alternative Fuels in Transport - Essay Example

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The Potential for Alternative Fuels in Transport

The various regions of the globe and transportation applications may present different challenges requiring different alternative fuels, but the need to preserve the environment and its resources is universal. (Pelkmans, p.1-3)
The Associate Director of the Energy Program at Rice University, Amy Myers Jaffe, argues that the situation is more dangerous now than in 1973 or 1979, as the United States is more dependent on the oil from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries of uncertain geopolitical stability. "Of the Saudi oil, two-thirds goes through one processing plant and two terminals. " (qtd. in EBS, pars. 3-4) The electric vehicles touted after the oil crisis have not yet made it past the significant hurdles of economic and technical factors. Battery technology has not progressed as predicted, and remains the major weakness in electric vehicles. In the last few years, hybrid vehicles have become available, compromising the fuel-efficiency and environmental benefits of electric vehicles without their long-charging times or short range. Last year, over 86,000 hybrid vehicles were sold in the United States. (Barnitt and Eudy, p. 15) "It turns out that if, in 2025, every car and light truck were as efficient as today's hybrid cars and sports utility vehicles, that would displace two Gulf's worth of oil or a sixth of all the oil in the country," says Amory Lovins, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute. (qtd. in EBS, pars. 3-4)
The use of alternative fuels, operating within assumptions of current fuel use and oil supplies, are inevitable. (Sperling, DeLuchi and Wang, p. 1) The United States owns only three percent of the world's oil reserves, but consumes 25 percent of the world's oil. There is a concensus that drilling our way to energy independence is not a feasible solution. (EBS, par. 4) The transportation fuel market represents about 53% of the world refinery product demand. If upstream (the fuel used in producing the fuel itself) consumption, asphalt and lubricant use are included, the transportation sector is responsible for about 60%. This share of the oil market is projected to increase in the next decades. The remainder of the oil products are used for heating, the production of plastics and other synthetics, and for the production of electricity. No large-scale substitute displays identical characteristics as oil-based fuels (gasoline and diesel,) and higher quality transport fuel requires higher energy use in the refining process. The demand for transporation fuel will determine the demand the for crude oil on the whole. There are sufficient oil resources in place for the period up to 2030, provided that sufficient investments and developments are made in oil recovery. (Gielen and Unander, p. 7) The World Energy Outlook 2004 predicts a growth from 77 million barrels per day to 121.3 million barrels per day in 2030, and the OPEC Middle East share in world oil production is predicted to grow from 24.7% to 42.7% by this time. (Gielen and Unander, p. 8) "Until we find a substitute for the internal combustion engine to reduce our dependence on gasoline, we're stuck with imported oil," says Robert Ebel, the Chairman of the Energy Program at the Center for Strategic and ...Show more

Summary

Alternative fuels began receiving more attention after the oil crisis of 1973. Concerns over energy security and inclement price hikes spurred improved fuel economy, and the development of alternative vehicles and fuels. Environmental concerns were voiced more strongly in the last two decades, leading to governmental intervention, i.e…
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