Global Oil reserves will be depleted by 2030

Friday, 24 September 2004

Global oil reserves will be fully depleted by the year 2030 and the introduction of alternative fuels must be a priority for governments across the globe, according to Professor John Simmie who was speaking at the official opening of the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) at NUI Galway today (September 24th 2004).

The Environmental Change Institute was officially opened by Jim Higgins MEP and has been established as a result of successful bids by NUI Galway to obtain funding (€10.62m) under Cycles II and III of the Irish Government's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions (PRTLI).

The research into biodiesel is a unique study by an Irish university into the uses and functionality of biodiesel which is the only alternative fuel that can be used directly in any existing, unmodified diesel engine. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel derived from vegetable oils and animal fats. It has a positive impact on global warming and can limit dependence on foreign-derived fuel supplies. Professor John Simmie of the Department of Chemistry and ECI at NUI Galway said, "With global oil reserves severely threatened, we must seek alternative methods of fuel production. The situation is extremely serious. Oil production has peaked in 52 out of 99 oil producing countries and it is estimated that oil will be depleted by 2030. Research into alternative methods of fuel is vital if we are to maintain energy levels going forward."

Professor John Simmie also stated that the Irish Government must take immediate measures to curb the amount of carbon dioxide being discharged by Irish consumers and suggested that biodiesel represents a realistic alternative, producing approximately 80% less carbon dioxide emissions and almost 100% less sulphur dioxide. Based on tests, biodiesel also provides a 90% reduction in cancer risks. Biodiesel also replaces the smelly exhaust odour of petroleum diesel with the pleasant aroma of freshly-cooked popcorn or chips. While the research is at the initial stages, the Environmental Change Institute estimates that biodiesel could be a reality in Irish vehicles quite soon.

Speaking at the official opening of the ECI, Professor Emer Colleran, Director of ECI added, "We are very excited about the wealth of research projects being undertaken at the Environmental Change Institute. We are working hard to make a significant and positive contribution to tackle global environmental issues and to the very challenging field of Environmental Change Research.

The development of the ECI has been made possible through PRTLI funding which enables us to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to this research, where we can bring together a pool of experienced researchers and post-graduate students in a state of the art facility. NUI Galway is renowned for the quality of its work internationally and we look forward to the development of the ECI and the positive impact that the findings of the Institute's research will have on making significant environmental change across the globe."

Professor John Simmie also called on the Irish Government to impose measures to curtail the purchase of SUVs and to reduce the size of car engines. "The rising level of affluence in Irish society is having detrimental affects on our environment especially with the introduction of larger engines and the growing attraction of sports utility vehicles (SUVs). The Irish government must curtail the purchase of SUVs which guzzle fuel and as a result are emitting twice as much carbon dioxide as ordinary cars."

Other areas of research being undertaken at the ECI include a study by Dr Vincent O'Flaherty and student Niamh Breathnach into levels of contamination in Irish drinking water, which will result in recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency on how best to reduce the levels of contaminated drinking water. Research is also being undertaken into Marine Environmental Modelling by Dr Michael Hartnett, which is a study into the transport of pollutants discharged into the coastal waters and seas surrounding Ireland. Professor Emer Colleran, is also undertaking a study into reducing the effects of landfill gas emissions and the resulting effect on global warming.

Ends

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