Das Ende der Ölzeit
Within industrialised countries, oil is a crucial resource for economic success and social well-being. However, the exploitation of the last reserves of the "black gold" is increasingly leading to wars. At the same time, climate change is making energy efficiency essential. Though people have relied on crude oil since the beginning of the 20th century, this reliance will not be possible in the future.
In this chapter, Helen Lückge and Markus Knigge discuss the coming end of the oil era and how the switch towards alternative energy sources will be possible. In view of present life-styles, which rely heavily on oil use, as well as long term investment cycles, this change will take a long time.
Due to our extensive need of oil, its use already brings along high costs to society which, with declining reserves will rise considerably in the future. As developing countries such as China and India continue to increase their oil use, experts believe that oil will run out in 2040.
Therefore, increasing energy efficiency is essential and financially appealing for everyone. So far, energy efficient practices such as using building insulation are not utilised enough. Also, energy conservation in larger buildings, e.g. proper ventilation, has great potential and could sometimes reduce energy use by 50%.
Efficient use of oil will not, however, lead to zero-consumption. Therefore, alternative energy needs to be encouraged. Gas and coal encounter the same problems as oil, thus on a long-term basis only an increased use of renewable energy sources will be effective. These sources can not only reduce dependence on the oil, but can also create jobs within the German economy. Driving hybrid vehicles is part of the solution; however, the supply structure is not yet developed enough, and hybrid cars still consume fuel. Breaking away from oil use is only possible if the population as a whole is more receptive to the idea and when each household is motivated to reduce its energy need in line with the idea of "The 2000-Watt-Society".
This chapter by Helen Lückge und Markus Knigge is part of the book, "Unterm Strich. Erbschaften und Erblasten für das Deutschland von morgen. Eine Generationenbilanz", which was written next to the project "Contributions to Generational Accounting to Assess Sustainability".