Friday, July 11, 2008

Is Petrol Pricing Itself Out Of The Market?

Eight dollars a litre! It’s enough to make you scream. That’s the predicted price of petrol in ten years time in a worst case scenario put forward by the Future Fuels Forum. The Forum was headed up by the CSIRO and has based this finding on an assumption that peak oil will be reached in the next five years. Peak oil is the point at which oil production begins to decline as a result of dwindling reserves. Nobody knows exactly when peak oil will occur: some predict it will be many decades away, others believe it has already occurred.

Either way, eight dollars is a frightening prediction. But, does it really have to be that way? Actually, no. The point of the report is that government and industry leaders can take action now to reduce the damage. A range of measures need to be pursued including greater investment in public transport, along with the development of alternative fuels and renewable energy. This is already happening, but it would appear that things need to happen more quickly.

The fact is that we already have a great deal of technology which can help. Hybrid cars still burn petrol, but they don’t have to. They can be built to burn LPG, natural gas, ethanol, or even pure hydrogen. Hydrogen is also a candidate for fuel cell vehicles. But the plug-in electric car is probably the best candidate for the mid to long term future. And today’s battery technology is already in use in a sports car that accelerates faster than a Ferrari.

We don’t have to be slaves to the oil markets. We just need substantial investment in the development of alternatives. And we don’t have to wait for governments to do it. Just as private enterprise is now moving into space travel, I believe the time is right for visionary leaders of private enterprise to invest in alternative energy for motor vehicles. I’m not the only one to say this. Already others are pushing the idea. So it just might be that in ten years time, when petrol is hitting eight dollars a litre, it won’t matter because we no longer need it.

Whether it’s a pipe dream or not will depend on the level of commitment and investment, not so much from government, but from industry.

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