‘Peak oil’ proponents — the guys and gals who believe overconsumption combined with scarce resources will lead to stratospheric energy prices — are now clinging to the hope that the shale oil and gas boom will fizzle out as the cost of drilling climbs.
For the most part, the boom has held up, though no one believes it will last forever.
But there is a fifth-column phenomenon this group has completely overlooked that will once-and-for-all obliterate their arguments: energy consumption efficiency.
Contained in Exxon’s new Outlook for Energy report is the following damning statistic: Electricity generation will grow by 90% by 2040, but the amount of fuel needed to generate that electricity will only have to grow by 50%. And the projected increase in energy demand is 20% less than the demand increase seen from 1980 to 2010. The IEA has previously projected that electricity will become more affordable over time in most regions as income levels increase faster than household electricity bills.
Exxon is making the case that greater efficiency is in fact the fuel of tomorrow, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Nicholas Sakelaris.
Energy efficiency technology will save 500 quadrillion British thermal units over the next 30 years, said Ted Pirog, an energy analyst with Exxon Mobil Corp.
How much energy is that?
“That’s the amount of energy that the world uses today,” said Pirog, as he spoke at the North Texas Commission luncheon Wednesday. “Our greatest source of energy in the future is our ability to use it more efficiently.”
So while our electricity needs are not going away, the idea that their costs will spiral out of control has surely perished.