Sir Richard Branson has kicked around quite a few green transportation projects over the years – he loved then hated biofuels for cars (some biofuel production methodss, at least), his Virgin Airlines used biofuels to fly from London to Amsterdam and he talked to Saab – but now we might be getting a little window into why he's put so much effort into finding gasoline alternatives.
This week, a group that Branson has a hand in, the UK Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security, issued its 2010 Oil Crunch Report (download the PDF) which says that, in short, "times ahead will be tough." Why? Because we are, in fact, reaching the oft-warned about peak oil. The report authors take pains to say that they don't mean we're about to run out of oil, just that it's getting harder to find new fields and that the fields we do know about are being used up. They write:
The need to find new super-giant fields is illustrated by the fact that, although there are some 70,000 known fields in current production world-wide, the vast majority of these produce oil in insignificant volumes. A mere 120 fields are the source of 50 percent of global production, and one field alone, the super-giant Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia, yields over 5 percent of the world's current production. Ghawar and the world's other giant fields are, for the most part, quite old, and no new finds of this size have been reported for a very long time. This suggests that they are not going to be found very easily in future and, as a result, 'peak oil' is at hand. It is our view that this description of the present state of global oil production is quite credible.
"At hand," here means maybe as early as 2015. It's always difficult to predict the future, especially the future of oil, but whenever it happens, we're sure Sir Richard will have some idea to get us over the hump.

[Source: Hybrid Cars | Image: jsbarrie - C.C. License 2.0]

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