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Energy: Electric dreams

2024-04-20 14:26  浏览数:491  来源:我打字超快    

Oil shaped the 20th century. In war, the French leader Georges Clemenceau said, petroleum
was "as vital as blood". In peace the oil business dominated stock markets, bankrolled
despots and propped up the economies of entire countries. But the 21st century will see
oils influence wane. Cheap natural gas, renewable energy, electric vehicles and coordinat-
ed efforts to tackle global warming together mean that the power source of choice will be
electricity.
That is welcome. The electricity era will diminish the clout of the $2trn oil trade,
reduce the choke points that have made oil a source of global tension, put energy
production into local hands and make power more accessible to the poor. It will also make
the world cleaner and safer--reassuringly dull, even. The trouble is getting from here to
there. Not just oil producers, but everyone else, too, may find the transition perilous.
Oil and electricity are a study in contrast. Oil is a wonder fuel, packed with more energy
by weight than coal and by volume than natural gas(both still the main sources
of electricity). It is easy to ship, store and turn into myriad refined products, from
petrol to plastics to pharmaceuticals. But it is found only in specific places favoured
by geology. Its production is concentrated in a few hands, and its oilgopolistic
suppliers--from the Seven Sisters to OPEC and Russia--have consistently attempted to
drip-feed it on to the market to keep prices high. Concentration and cartelization make
oil prone to crises and the governments of oil-rich states prone to corruption and abuse.



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