German military report says Peak Oil in 2010. World instability to follow

Peak Oil

The New York Time has a report on news that appears in Der Speigel. It exposes a report made to a branch of the Bundeswehr (the German Army):

“The study states that 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 German military study, which was analyzed and partly translated into English by Der Spiegel, declares that once peak oil begins in earnest, economies around the globe — including Germany’s — will probably struggle with price shocks as a result of higher transportation costs, and ‘shortages of vital goods could arise.’

‘In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse,’ the study continues.”

More here.

There have been some other reports from European sources that are indicating that Peak Oil should occur this year or next. As I recall there was even a special report to the US Joint Chief’s of Staff making the same point and calling on the US Military to start planning how to respond to a declining supply.

Didn’t WWII start in the Pacific because the Japanese realized that they needed access to oil if they were going to be able to sustain the empire they craved?

Don’t know if we have time to create the solar alternatives that would help us avoid the worst of the shocks, but I know people in Arizona are thinking hard about how to leverage the climate out here to do something along those lines with power generation at least.

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Paul Martin says

    There was a paper on The Oil Drum blog which plotted oil price spikes and recessions over the last few decades. They coincided pretty closely. I think predicting peak oil is an exercise in econometric modeling as much as geology and extraction.
    First Solar’s CdTe panels are now at $.76/Watt peak. I am seeing CuInGaSe thin film efficiencies today that I would not have dreamed of 5 years ago. (I think I have seen 14% efficiency in 1 square meter cells!) And of course, the silicon people continue to progress. I think solar is going to make a big impact in our lifetimes.

  2. Paul – did you catch the news from Sharp earlier this week? They’re claiming a silicon solar cell with efficiency north of 42%. They’re thinking that 45% is going to be achievable. Apparently that’s the point at which solar energy costs the same as traditional nuclear generated energy.
    I’m thinking if that gets combined with a decent energy storage solution, we may really be getting somewhere fast. At least I’m hoping.

  3. Paul Martin says

    Nick, as far as I can tell, this is a triple junction compound semiconductor cell (Ge-GaAs-InGaP or some variation of that type). These are produced in the US by Emcore and Spectrolab and are used for larger satellites and in terrestrial concentrator systems. The cells are expensive, but may make economic sense in the concentrators.
    I don’t know if I remember a time when there was this much news on advances in this field. There is a recent paper out of Stanford in which the authors propose combining a thermal solar system with photovoltaic generation to exceed the thermodynamic limits of photovoltaic power alone. There are also some intriguing results with quantum dots added to conventional cells. It will be fascinating to watch.

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