12. Alternative to finite resources
A rapid transition away from oil is urgently needed. According to the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) oil will remain the world’s most important primary energy source for the time being, inter alia, because of strong demand from emerging markets. However, according to the BGR experts, the rising demand for oil will probably not be able to be met in the coming decades.
The International Energy Agency estimates that approximately half of the currently reported oil reserves will be exhausted by 2035. The era of cheap oil is going to be over soon, as prices are bound to rise, due to dwindling oil reserves and rising production costs.
And oil is not the only fossil energy resource whose supply will eventually run out. Natural gas production has already exceeded the maximum in Europe. This results in an increasing dependence on gas imports from OPEC or CIS countries.
While fossil resources are finite, renewables cannot be ‘used up’ and offer an inexhaustible energy resource. Whether wind, solar energy, water power, bioenergy or geothermal energy: The available supply exceeds current world energy consumption many times over. Consider the following facts about solar energy, for instance: In 90 minutes, enough sunlight strikes the earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for one year. In a year, about 885 million terawatthours (TWh) reach the earth’s surface that is 6200 times the commercial primary energy consumed by humankind in 2008 (Source: IEA, 2011).