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BP study sees technology boosting energy supplies, disrupting existing models

Advances in technology will keep energy supplies plentiful and affordable—enough to meet projected demand many times over—and help pave the way to a lower carbon energy mix, according to data published in the BP Technology Outlook.

“Technology opens up a whole range of possibilities across the energy sector,” said Bob Dudley, BP Group chief executive. “It can bring great value to consumers and businesses, and it can also disrupt and challenge existing models. Today, for the first time, we are sharing our analysis of energy technologies and the options they present society in the quest for an abundant, sustainable and lower carbon energy future.”

The 80-page Technology Outlook brings together previously internal BP analysis and the work of other noted business and academic experts, setting out technology and policy choices governments and industry can make around energy resources, oil and gas supply, power generation, transport, and options for reducing carbon emissions.

The publication suggests that liquid fuels will continue to dominate global transportation through to 2035 and beyond, largely due to their high energy density. The average efficiency of new light-duty vehicles is expected to improve by 2-3% per year as a result of increased hybridization and improved powertrains, combined with advanced fuels and lubricants.

By 2050, electric vehicles could be approaching cost-parity with the internal combustion engine, due to advances in battery technology, while fuel cell vehicles could still have further to go.

The report also highlights the growing influence that digital technologies are having on the energy industry.

“Digital technologies—such as advanced sensors, data analytics, robotics and automation, enabled by supercomputing—have the most widespread potential to drive change and make energy supply and consumption safer, more reliable, more efficient and more cost-effective” said David Eyton, BP Group head of technology. “These technologies are already transforming the oil and gas industry, and the longer term possibilities are frankly difficult to imagine.”

“We are also staying close to developments in biosciences and advanced materials, which could lead to extraordinary improvements in the performance of fossil and non-fossil energy systems, including batteries, solar conversion and hydrogen as a fuel” Eyton added.

The BP Technology Outlook is available online at www.bp.com/technology.