The End of the Oil Age

Oil is a naturally occurring liquid found within rock formations. Oil has been used for over 5000 years by humans but only where it was easily accessible. The growing energy demands of humans were met previously by wood, coal and whale oil.

In the 1850s, the world saw the first successful use of a ‘modern’ drilling rig on a well drilled specifically to produce oil. If it weren’t for this, there probably wouldn’t be any whales left in the world. We would have massacred every one to light our homes. And that’s where the benevolence of the ‘oil industry’ starts and stops.

In the 1980s, I first heard of the term ‘peak oil’. It was the idea that the mining and refining of oil would get to the point where it could become uneconomical to produce petroleum products. As it happened, government subsidies and vast increases in price meant that peak oil was met, passed and reclassified. We would just pay more for fossil fuel; we were fossil fuel addicts.

Modern oil drilling only started in the late 1850s on continental North America. Now, 160 years later, we can see the end of the “oil age”. You only have to look at the pumps here in the UK – rising more than 30% in less than 5 years.

I would encourage everyone to look at lower consumption technology – not just transport and heating but also computing. Solar panels have dropped more than 80% in cost in the last five years (per Watt). A house can be cheaply kitted out with solar panels and a wind turbine to provide the majority of a household energy needs (storage is an issue, but distribution is not). Solutions for storage will evolve.

6 thoughts on “The End of the Oil Age”

  1. Matt, we need planners play their part in accepting urban mini-wind turbines, and central gov to keep offering incentives for solutions like Tesla PowerWall that store electricity in big battery packs (looking like radiators) from incoming photons during the day, to use during evenings,
    That would also produce clean electricity for EVs, while sadly the UK gov will reduce on 9th November the grant on new EVs from £4,500 to £3,500! I bought one last year and will not go back to petrol, I then sold my petrol scooter this summer to buy an electric motorbike (Super Soco), they both drive fantastically and are good for the atmosphere. To retrofit a house with renewable tech still needs years to recoup the investment, there too incentives are needed like there are in Scandinavia.

    1. Yeah, we need better government. One that doesn’t wait until we are on the brink before acting. But here we are, on the brink.

      £1500 buys enough solar for one household for life. Another 2000 would buy a PowerWall. The cost of RHI could have put unlimited free electricity on nearly 150,000 homes.

      In 2016, there were 750,000 homes in NI.

      We could have eliminated fuel poverty entirely. Going from the region with the worst scores, to the region with the best scores, in a year. And yeah, this would probably include enough solar juice to charge someone’s car every day.

      I don’t want incentives. I want the market to be there. We should have banned sales of fossil cars from 2025. Eliminate city parking for non-electric vehicles.

      There’s no soul, no progression in government. And you can’t trust the civil servants.

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