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Oil will run out 90 years before alternatives are widely available, UC Davis study says

November 9, 2010 |  3:09 pm

The global oil supply is set to run dry 90 years before replacements such as renewable energy are ready to satisfy the same amount of demand, according to UC Davis researchers.

Current policies that set targets for batteries, hydrogen, biofuel and other alternative energy sources  won’t be enough, a study published Monday says.

Deb Niemeier, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and postdoctoral researcher Nataliya Malyshkina examined existing public companies dealing in non-oil fuels such as BlueFire Ethanol Inc. of Irvine and Enova Systems Inc. of Torrance.

The technologies in the market “may not be able to occupy a sufficient enough niche in the market by the time we need them to,” Niemeier said in an e-mail. 

The pair looked at activity from long-term investors as a predictor of whether and when the burgeoning technologies would go mainstream. They also considered the value and dividends of public companies in both the oil and alternative energy markets.

There are many predictions of when oil could run out, but also many, many factors that could feed into a timeline for depletion,” Niemeier wrote. “For example, whether consumption patterns stay at the level, whether new [oil] fields are found, how much technology improves for harvesting less accessible or economic fields now, and so forth.”

The research appeared in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

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California utilities struggle to meet renewable-power requirement

 --Tiffany Hsu

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