National Petroleum Council Report Puts Emphasis on Improving Vehicle Fuel Economy
18 July 2007
Implementing stringent fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles is one of the principle strategies needed to reduce petroleum demand that is outlined in a report presented today to the Secretary of Energy by the National Petroleum Council (NPC).
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman requested the report assessing the future of oil and natural gas through 2030 from the NPC in 2005. The NPC is a formal federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy. The 21-month effort by the NPC Committee on Global Oil and Gas, which was chaired by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, involved 350 participants, two-thirds of whom were outside the oil and gas industry.
Although the report is not yet published on the NPC website, the committee presented a summary of the work this morning. [Update: the report and supporting materials are now posted on the NPC site. Links below.]
The committee made five core strategic recommendations for the US, based on what they termed six “Hard Truths” about energy demand, supply, sources, security, workforce and carbon emissions.
The committee concluded that, given global growth in energy demand, oil, gas and coal will remain indispensible through 2030, even with the development of biofuels. While the earth is not running out of energy resources, they concluded, there is “accumulating risk” to continuing expansion of oil and natural gas production from the conventional sources.
Expansion of all economic energy sources will be required. Coal, nuclear, biomass, unconventional oil and natural gas. All of these pose significant challenges...we are going to need them all. Given anticipated and projected demand rates, no one segment can be missing.
The five recommendations, all of which the committee deems essential, are:
Moderate demand by increasing energy efficiency;
Expand and diversify the US energy supply;
Strengthen global and US energy security;
Reinforce capabilities new meet new challenges; and
Address carbon constraints.
Moderating demand includes three primary efforts, the first of which is the improvement of fuel economy.
If moderating oil demand growth is a key objective, then improving efficiency of light duty vehicles is a key impact. The potential impact of a doubling of new vehicle fuel economy by 2030...the potential fuel savings is about 3-5 million barrels per day. Of our demand recommendation, this has the biggest potential energy savings.
The other two efforts include improvements in the residential and commercial sectors, and increases in industrial efficiency.
Facing the Hard Truths About Energy (full report)
Facing the Hard Truths About Energy (executive summary)
Materials presented at 18 July meeting
So...a committee led by a chairman from Exxon-Mobil says the single best thing we can do on energy policy is double fuel efficiency...cool! Maybe this will help the House of Representatives to push a higher standard than the Senate did.
Posted by: HealthyBreeze | 18 July 2007 at 12:38 PM
No committee before has endorsed higher MPG, altho such a policy was obvious to all NOT in the oil industry. What they now see, is that electric vehicles(EV) are going to get popular because electrical density storage is going way up. The oil industry needs to raise MPG over the long run or see themselves swept away by electric motors. However, its impossible for ICE to beat EV efficiency. ICE is dying so that people will be able to breath. Long live EVs.
Posted by: litesong | 18 July 2007 at 01:02 PM
I would like to agree with you but ICE vehicles will (unfortunately) be around for many more years.
Pure EVs have to be recharged too often, could stop dead in heavy traffic jams and adequate storage units are still too expensive.
EVs with smaller size, lower cost storage unit + very small light weight on-board (ICE) range extender generator could reduce fuel consumption by up to 85%; would not have to stop very 100 miles for recharge and could crawl home in heavy traffic jams.
In other words, 20 to 40 miles PHEVs may be the best interim (10 to 15 years) solution.
Pure EVs, with improved storage units, will eventually (by 2020+?) go 300+ miles per quick charge at an affordable (less than $5K) cost differential.
Posted by: | 18 July 2007 at 02:48 PM
anon: while most of what you say makes sense there is one area that I wish to contradict. EVs don't die in traffic jams (unless you're running AC). In fact you'll last longer in a jam in an EV than you will in an ICE. Reason, if you're not moving you're not using energy. Most ICE cars have to sit and idle while you crawl along. Not only that but EVs have a better range at low speed. Long live EVs!
Posted by: NeilPackrat | 18 July 2007 at 03:11 PM
When I read that an Big Oil dominated committee proposes efficiency, I am leery.
I note that the idea of using direct solar is not clearly endorsed. I don't see the words, wind, solar or water power includes. The words, oil, gas, coal, nuclear and bio are clearly there. And, the ideas of protecting those energy sources are also. that's exactly the White House policy of today...that's why we are in Iraq.
I like others would like to see the use of plug-in electric battery systems and hopefully eliminate continuing the process of paying the oil companies to pump fuel using their pumps. As long as they own the pumps, they can set the prices, Bio fuel, coal oil, CNG, H2, gas, diesel and gasoline can all be pumped and thus controlled. I'm surprised they haven't found a way to pump nuclear fuel; maybe they have, we just don't know about it yet. And, so far they haven't found a way to pump electrons; but, I'm sure they are working on the problem.
Posted by: Lad | 18 July 2007 at 04:26 PM
I think litesong hit the nail on the head with respect to the oil industry's latest strategy. They need to keep ICE viable as long as possible in the face of competition from new technology. Doubling fuel economy would do that.
Posted by: George | 18 July 2007 at 08:41 PM
I see there are a lot of people angry at the oil industry. So much so that even when they announce their support for something that so many of us here want, it's immediately badmouthed and turned into an object of suspicion.
When we here at GCC want better fuel economy, that's a good thing. When an oil exec says the exact same thing, it's a bad thing.
I find that bewildering.
Posted by: Cervus | 18 July 2007 at 09:24 PM
The history of not trusting oil companies goes way back to the buying up and scraping of the mass transit lines and equipment after WW2 to force people into automobiles, the trumped up oil shortages of the '70s, the non-settled court battles over oil spills, the consolidation of the companies during the past few years to control the energy market through their lobbyist alliances and now the obscene profits of the present day; just to name a few things.
I find the mistrust quite normal and expected when people learn of their predatory business practices.
Posted by: Lad | 18 July 2007 at 11:09 PM
The point I'm trying to make here is that we do have to work together on this. And when our interests do actually coincide, this is a good thing. Refusing to work together because we have different reasons for the same ends is the perfect recipe for doing absolutely nothing.
Posted by: Cervus | 19 July 2007 at 12:23 AM
I agree except working with oil companies is like the story of the frog and the scorpion:
The scorpion said to the frog "take me across the pond."
The frog said "No! if I put you on my back you will sting me."
The scorpion said " we must work together so if you take me across, I won't sting you."
So, the frog put him on his back and swum across the pond and when they got to the other side on dry land, the scorpion stung the frog and as the frog was dying the frog said "you promised not to sting me."
The scorpion said, "sorry, it's my nature."
So! you trust 'em. I'll pass. I think greed is too much in their nature!
Posted by: Lad | 19 July 2007 at 01:21 AM
In addition to what Lad wrote let's not forget the massive effort they put in discrediting the science behind glodal warming.
Posted by: ai_vin | 19 July 2007 at 08:15 AM
Cervus and Lad,
Thank you for the mini-debate. It is indeed interesting that we are on Big Oil's case for supporting higher MPG. But, Lad is right that it is in their nature, since they make oil and oil makes profits now. ExxonMobil prides itself on keeping their shareholders happy, check their stock in comparison to other oil companies. Unfortunately for them in recent months EVs and PHEVs have been the rave just as biofuels (2005-2006) and hydrogen (2003-2004) once were. Certainly, the oil companies want higher MPG, because its the only way they stay in business and compete with other options. To me, EVs and PHEVs are the way to go because we have technologies to immobilize CO2 at the flue gas stack and not at the tailpipe. Now, we need to figure out where to put that CO2. But, I find this topic to be outside the realm of this report, although EVs and PHEVs should at least be considered viable competition.
Posted by: Sam | 19 July 2007 at 08:16 AM
That's your right. Frankly, I find many of your arguments too dependent on conspiracy (such as the post-WWII mass transit issue). I don't intend to spend time and energy trying to rebut every point because in my experience, it can too easily turn into a flame war. We'll just have to agree to disagree.
Posted by: Cervus | 19 July 2007 at 08:40 AM
Many business dealings between companies are secretative and subject to suposition based on whatever facts and actions are available.
I enjoyed the debate and reading your point of view and I agree we disagree.
Posted by: Lad | 19 July 2007 at 09:24 AM
Oil has missed the (electric) boat to a way that is far superior in 'fuel' costs, emissions, simplicity, delivery of 'fuel', & elegant operation. As electric energy storage density rises, we who are on the boat know that EVs, not double MPG ICEs, are the future.
My Ford Festiva for almost 20 years already got double the present average MPG, averaging 45MPG & 53 MPG on the road. With the rising electric energy storage density tho, I see that buying EVs or converting my Festiva to EV is far superior to my ICE Festiva. My Washington State produces equivalent electric energy at only 5% of the pollution of ICE cars & EVs are 4 times more efficient using that energy than ICEs. With the increasing development of renewable energy sources, every state has my state's low emissions as a goal if renewables are strongly promoted.
Electric motors need no further development, except to raise electric energy storage density which is on the rise. Since oil did not care about polluting the planet earth, I will take their power to pollute away from them. Soon may ICE die that people may live. Long live EVs.
Posted by: litesong | 19 July 2007 at 12:02 PM
After reading this site for months now, this is my first post.
I'm not really heavy into enviromental issues, but I really do think that EV's are the best way for us to move forward. I like that emissions can be better regulated at the source of production. In my opinion, I would like to see at least half of our (the United States) nuclear arsenal dismantled and use that fuel to power nuclear power plants. I personally don't think there is a better source of power in the short term, as the technology is already there.
With the types of batteries that A123Systems is now able to produce, we can have very high energy density and only need 5 minutes to recharge to 80%. If I owned a gas station, it would make a lot of business sense for me to have a recharge station where I could sell electricity for a cent or two over cost and make a decent margin. Plus most gas stations are in open areas, so they could use wind turbines like the SkyStream and sell off their generated wind power. Also those large roof/covers over the pumps are ideal for solar panels.
Then again, most people will be able to recharge overnight and will only need these types of recharge stations seldomly.
I like electronics and technology a lot and believe that if we just market these vehicles, everything from prices to electrical efficiency and capacity will benefit from additional capital and research.
Posted by: Joe Martin | 20 July 2007 at 09:15 AM
No matter how one looks at it, increasing the energy efficiency of vehicles will be the best way to cope with the future reduction in fuel supply, be it fossil fuels or synthetic fuels.
While HEV is the most practical way to get there, BEV and even PHEV offer no certainty, due to the high cost of battery and potential shortage of battery critical raw materials. Plus, electricity now is made largely from coal and to lesser extent from NG, still GHG-producing process and non-renewable fossil energy. You may have solar panel at home, but can you charge your PHEV while the car is parked where you work?
And, why can't the oil and energy companies invest in synthesizing fuels from renewable energy such as solar, wind and waste biomass? Oh, I see, they have to cash in big-time first from the impending oil shortage with price-hike to the ceiling...so brace yourself, petrol consumers, for a little bumpy ride in the near future...but...in time...synthetic fuels will come online, to be served by Exxon and the likes...and business will be like usual! CONSERVE!
Posted by: Roger Pham | 23 July 2007 at 11:59 AM
Saw this older news item. I took my first Electric Vehicle(EV) step getting an electric bike(EB). I love it. As a healthy kid, I used to pedal all over the Tri-Valley area here. Now as an ailing adult, I can now revisit my kidhood with the EB traveling 25 miles in a day for 20 cents or less. A new technology battery system should let me go considerably further & cheaper. Oh, yeah! My EB puts out 1/700th or less the pollution of an ICE car when electric energy source pollution is considered. I pass closely by hundreds of people & no one yet knows I'm on a EB! That's how quiet & elegant the EB is! I will continue going to the Seattle Electric Vehicle meetings waiting for the good EV developments coming.
Posted by: litesong | 29 October 2007 at 10:03 AM