Audi auto assembly line
Modern auto manufacturing line. Mike Ruppert contents the world should have began the transition to a more efficient transportation system thirty years ago, long before we reached the far side of the oil peak.

Oil Oops! Did We Forget Something?

What happens if we run out of cheap oil and natural gas before we can build enough hydrogen cars?

By EV World

With all the talk about someday building fleets of fuel cell vehicles and developing the necessary hydrogen infrastructure to fuel them, what has gone largely unnoticed is the cost, in terms of energy expended, of replacing a global fleet of 600 million vehicles, a number that could easily rise to more than a billion by the time fuel cell engines become practical.

In a recent interview with radio talk show host, Jeff Rense, former LA police detective and investigative journalist, Mike Ruppert raised this until-now-ignored issue. Ruppert has been investigating the connection between the events of 9/11 and peak oil, partnering at times with Richard Heinberg, the author of "The Party is Over" and Julian Darley.

Ruppert asserts that the process of manufacturing a motor vehicle -- from mining the metals to forming the plastics -- consumes as much oil as that vehicle will burn in its entire operational life. In effect, every single car, truck, tractor, and bus will use up twice the amount of oil we normally associate with operating that vehicle. He concludes that we may simply not have enough oil left to make the transition from fossil fuels to hydrogen.

Of course, Ruppert's views are premised on certain assumptions about the amount of oil remaining in world reserves and the efficiency of the manufacturing process. Still, it is an interesting thesis that needs to be considered when we talk about the transition to a hydrogen economy and the impact of the inevitable decline in oil production.

We recorded Rense and Ruppert's conversation on the Internet and reproduced it as a 6:26 minute MP3 file so you can listen to it for yourself. Click the play button on the MP3 Player at the right.

EDITOR'S FOLLOW UP: Due to the investigative follow-through of an EV World readers, Richard Heinberg indicated that his information on the amount of energy used to build a car is inaccurate. He stated he plans to revise this in his next edition.

In addition, we asked this same question during the SAE conference in Sacramento today (Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2004) and learned that a 1998 SAE paper was written on this topic. While the respondent didn't recall the exact percentage, he did indicate that it was only a fraction of the energy a vehicle will consume in its lifetime.

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Times Article Viewed: 5646
Published: 13-Feb-2004


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