Oil well (photo by John Hill)Enlarge Photo
What if electric cars and renewable energy became such common parts of our society that they made the oil industry obsolete?
It's an environmentalist's dream, and it's also the thesis of a new book, which claims the oil industry will effectively vanish in large part within the next two decades.
It's called Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities, and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030.
In the book (via Charged EVs), author Tony Seba argues that the switch to renewable energy and electric cars is inevitable--and coming fast.
And, he suggests, it's not because of government regulation or out of altruistic concern among consumers for the environment or about climate change.
Rather, it will be because consumers view these technologies as a more logical choice than those that rely on fossil fuels.
Continued development of solar cells, batteries, and other related technologies will soon make going green the cheaper and more sensible option for most people, he argues.
Seba compares the established auto industry to the "horse and carriage industry of a century ago," claiming electric cars will inevitably shove aside other technologies the way gasoline cars did in the early 20th century.
He predicts a majority of consumers will eventually be won over by the cost savings of electric cars.
And, he says, vehicle designers will eventually make the most of the flexible packaging offered by electric powertrains--streamlining the development of new models.
Electric-car adoption will be further bolstered by concurrent developments in related fields, such as the use of lithium-ion batteries for energy storage, or solar power for home electricity, Seba continues.
BMW DesignworksUSA solar carport conceptEnlarge Photo
In fact, the advance of green technology will come on so strongly, Seba contends, that the only real obstacle will be government regulations that protect existing industries.
This would seem to refer to policies like those of Arizona and Oklahoma--which levy fees on home-solar users--as well as Tesla Motors' ongoing state-by-state battle with franchised car dealers.
It's definitely a rosy picture, describing a scenario where people willingly and smoothly undertakes massive changes in their lives--without having to be cajoled by circumstance or government policy.
However, Seba's vision assumes the relevant technologies will continue to advance rapidly, and that the actions of Detroit, Washington, and Silicon Valley will neatly synchronize in optimal ways.
It seems entirely safe to say that electric cars and the renewable-energy industry will continue to grow in relevance over the coming years and decades.
It may, however, be a bit early yet to set a year for the "time of death" of the century-old global oil industry.