Nov 25, 2016 | By Benedict

Thina Margrethe Saltvedt, a Norwegian analyst for Swedish financial services group Nordea, believes that 3D printers and electric vehicles can help to reduce oil consumption—to a greater degree than has been predicted by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

3D printing and electric cars could reduce global oil consumption

The IEA, a Paris-based intergovernmental organization that acts as an energy policy adviser to members states and other countries, recently predicted the continued growth of global oil consumption due to increased demand for aircraft, shipping, trucks, and petrochemical products. However, Nordea oil analyst and self-proclaimed “technology optimist” Thina Margrethe Saltvedt has condemned the statement, pointing out that 3D printing and other technologies have the power to reduce oil consumption around the world.

Speaking at an IEA meeting in the Danish capital of Copenhagen yesterday, Saltvedt attempted to argue against the points made by IEA executive director Fatih Birol, who was presenting key conclusions from the 2016 World Energy Outlook, the IEA’s flagship publication. Saltvedt pointed out that oil prices remained high throughout the 00s, when there were few alternatives available. Now, however, there are more fuel-efficient ships, greener aircraft, and a rising number of electric cars—especially in environmentally conscious countries like Norway.

Thina Margrethe Saltvedt, technology optimist, presents her argument for 3D printing

The widespread adoption of electric cars could turn out to be a key factor in the reduction of global oil consumption, but different sources disagree on how the market is looking. The IEA, for example, estimates there could be 150 million electric cars (some of which may be 3D printed) by 2040, while news agency Bloomberg—with whom Saltvedt agrees—estimates a much larger number: 450 million. Factor in the introduction of electric technologies for buses and ferries, and it begins to seem plausible that oil consumption could begin to slow down.

According to Saltvedt, another important technology that could help to reduce oil consumption is 3D printing, or additive manufacturing. According to the Nordea analyst, 3D printing could reduce oil consumption by increasing the local production of goods, reducing the need for a fuel-demanding import and export system. With more businesses able to fabricate items on location using 3D printers, the world could see a reduction in energy consumption across land, sea, and air.

Two birds with one car? Local Motors' Strati car is both electric and 3D printed

Other areas that Saltvedt believes could help to reduce oil consumption include wind and solar power, both of which are becoming more competitive—even without subsidies. “I believe that oil consumption will rise in a few years, then fall by 2025,” Saltvedt said.

The business advantages of 3D printing have been made clear on numerous occasions, with benefits like affordable low-volume production, increased design possibilities, and simple operation prompting many companies to integrate additive manufacturing into their workflow. However, with the added benefit of helping to reduce oil consumption, 3D printing technology could receive another push in terms of both publicity and financing. If Saltvedt’s predictions begin to seem accurate, governments may be even be tempted to offer subsidies for additive manufacturing in order to meet energy targets.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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