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Recently, the UK's energy and climate change secretary, Chris Huhne, spoke of his country's ambitious low-carbon energy plans, telling conference-goers at the Royal Geographic Society that the billions invested in renewable energy will pay off economically. There's a caveat, though: this only happens if oil exceeds $100 a barrel. As Huhne predicts, consumers will see reduced utility bills from low-carbon energy investments when oil soars above what he calls "the break-even point" of $100 a barre

Energy analyst Charles Maxwell of Weeden & Co. sat down to discuss peak oil, alternative energy and the future cost of a barrel of crude with Index Universe managing editor Olivier Ludwig recently. Maxwell, a man who has been involved in the oil industry for more than half a century, is pretty sure that peak oil is nearly upon us. Maxwell's vision of a world forever changed by dwindling petroleum supplies is startling, so let's hope it's not entirely accurate.

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