The world is about to undergo another major transport revolution. Just as steam replaced horsepower and oil has replaced steam, 21st century transportation will be revolutionised by low carbon and low emission technologies. Unlike previous revolutions, this one has been widely predicted because we have no choice. Climate change and air pollution, allied with the need to reduce the chronic congestion clogging up our cities, necessitates radical transport solutions.
The UK government has announced a ban on the sale of all new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040. A few years ago, this would have been a radical step, unthinkable especially from a government with such stock in the automotive sector. Yet the response from many in the industry has been positive, while critics have instead called upon government to be even more ambitious. Even Shell, in its latest forward thinking 'Sky Scenario', has begun to countenance the future dominance of electric vehicles as a necessary outcome to meet the Paris climate agreement commitments.
So, is this the end of the internal combustion engine? Probably yes; certainly as the powertrain of the ubiquitous and iconic motorcar that we have grown to love. Is the future electric? It certainly seems that way for cars and light goods vehicles, judging by the number of manufacturers developing new electric vehicle models. There will, however, be a case for (sustainable) bio-energy, and hydrogen, for larger goods vehicles and public transport. There is still a big question, however, about the speed of transition.
Extract from Energy World magazine (published by The Energy Institute), June 2018 edition, page 7.