Schneider Electric’s white paper Making Permanent Savings through Active Energy Efficiency reports that transportation accounts for 27% of energy use, without the consideration of the power generation sector.
The transportation sector is a major consumer of energy. Oil is the main fuel source, although other fuels are used to a small extent. As oil prices have been rising since 1989, with the exception of 2009, there is a drive to reduce the use of liquid hydrocarbons in the sector through greater fuel efficiency and use of other fuels. Furthermore, there are an estimated 46 years more of oil reserves left based on 2010 reserves and consumption figures on the assumption that no more new reserves will be discovered. So, in reality the R/P for crude oil will be higher than 46 years due to new oil discoveries, but the costs to extract this oil might be higher due to challenging site conditions for example in the case of offshore oil, Arctic oil and so on, which will most likely be further away from demand centres.
Dubai prices before 1986 are Arabian Light prices; Brent prices before 1983 are Forties; West Texas Intermediate prices before 1983 are posted West Texas Intermediate prices and after that date are spot West Texas Intermediate (Cushing) prices.
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011
However, alternatives to gasoline, diesel and other liquid hydrocarbons from oil are not without their problems. For example, first generation biofuels are derived from crops such as corn and sugar cane, and thus are affected by commodity prices and controversy due to the food versus fuel debate. Second generation biofuels derived from non-food crops are far from commercialisation. Another challenge is that electric vehicles are expensive and the infrastructure is not in place. Finally, the adoption of coal-to-liquid and natural gas-to-liquid fuels has been minimal to date and coal-to-liquid fuels have high CO2 emissions. Hence, there is a large market for energy efficiency products for the transportation sector using conventional petroleum as a liquid transportation fuel.
The oil companies themselves have been conducting research to produce more efficient fuels. For example Shell has developed, Shell Rimula R6 LE, a lubricant that reduces the friction in the engines of trucks and buses along with Shell Helix Ultra for car efficiency and Shell Omala HD for the smooth running of machinery.
Transportation covers automobiles, trains, aircrafts and ships, with air travel as one of the most energy efficient modes of transportation. Especially when compared to shipping, thus the aviation sector is major sector to focus energy efficiency measures.