Despite peak oil, wind power can drive a green electricity revolution

» By | Published 14 Sep 2010

As if the economic devastation and uncertainty experienced around the world the past two years wasn’t bad enough news, along comes a leaked German military study warning how massive oil shortages in the not too distant future could create a disturbing global shift in power.

The study, published earlier this month by Der Spiegel, says “peak oil” could cause a frightening energy crisis that has the possibility of further battering financial markets already dealing with the effects of the near-global recession that began in 2008.

“It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships nations, of the ‘total collapse of the markets’ and of serious political and economic crises,” the Der Spiegel report says.

The German military study notes there is “some probability that peak oil will occur around the year 2010 and that the impact on security is expected to be felt 15 to 30 years later,” the story says, adding many scientists have also predicted global oil production has already peaked or will sometime this year.

Ironically, because of the ongoing economic meltdown that began in mid-2008 with the subprime mortgage crisis, the use of oil has been somewhat curtailed recently despite the price being about half of what it was at the start of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But in a world where the population is rapidly increasing as some developing nations are just as quickly creating an emerging middle class, neither the price of oil, nor its continual ability to meet demand with supply, will likely remain stable.

Indeed, the military report warns that peak oil could cause various impacts, at least on Germany. The story says these include assertions that oil-producing nations could become even more powerful, that non-producing nations could increasingly compete for both oil and the support of oil exporters, that a liberalised energy market could be somewhat replaced with conditional supply agreements, that there could be massive tax hikes and shortages of industrial goods, and that the global financial systems and national economies might collapse.

Even more bleak perhaps is the suggestion that peak oil could result in duly-elected governments being replaced by “ideological and extremist alternatives” that might “in extreme cases lead to open conflict.”

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has long warned policy makers about the dangers of continuing to rely on oil and other energy sources that are susceptible to supply chain interruptions — whether caused by depleted resources or political manipulations.

EWEA and a number of other organisations have repeatedly pointed out that using oil and other fossil fuels to keep powering our growing world is foolhardy, expensive and toxic — especially when other solutions, such as wind power, already exist.

Perhaps this latest study may finally shock enough politicians to fully embrace wind power — which is emissions-free, local, dependable and affordable — and other renewables on the long road to an overdue green electricity revolution.

What do you think about this study on the possible effects of peak oil? Please make your comments below.