Recent technological developments and past technology transitions suggest that the world
could be on the verge of a profound shift in transportation technology. The return of the electric
car and its adoption, like that of the motor vehicle in place of horses in early 20th century,
could cut oil consumption substantially in the coming decades. Our analysis suggests that oil
as the main fuel for transportation could have a much shorter life span left than commonly
assumed. In the fast adoption scenario, oil prices could converge to the level of coal prices,
about $15 per barrel in 2015 prices by the early 2040s. In this possible future, oil could become
the new coal.
This paper discusses structure, impact, costs, and efficiency of renewable energy supply in the eight largest advanced economies (the G-7 plus Spain), with focus on Germany. Renewables production costs are compared to benefits, defined as reductions in net carbon emissions; technological innovation, and increased energy security. The latter part of the paper centers on Germany, the main European producer of non-traditional renewables. We question whether the level of subsidies can be justified, relative to other means to increase energy security and reduce carbon emissions. We also find an excessive emphasis on current productive activity, relative to development of new technologies.