Energy security is the association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption. International trade in oil and gas. Risks associated with nuclear power technology. Features the use of solar heating systems.
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Energy security is the association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption. Access to (relatively) cheap energy has become essential to the functioning of modern economies. However, the uneven distribution of energy supplies among countries has led to significant vulnerabilities.
Renewable resources and significant opportunities for energy efficiency exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and technological diversification of energy sources, would result in significant energy security and economic benefits.
The modern world relies on a vast energy supply to fuel everything from transportation to communication, to security and health delivery systems. Perhaps most alarmingly, peak oil expert Michael Ruppert has claimed that for every calorie of food produced in the industrial world, ten calories of oil and gas energy are invested in the forms of fertilizer, pesticide, packaging, transportation, and running farm equipment. Energy plays an important role in the national security of any given country as a fuel to power the economic engine. Some sectors rely on energy more heavily than others; for example, the Department of Defense relies on petroleum for approximately 77% of its energy needs. Threats to energy security include the political instability of several energy producing countries, the manipulation of energy supplies, the competition over energy sources, attacks on supply infrastructure, as well as accidents, natural disasters, terrorism, and reliance on foreign countries for oil.
Foreign oil supplies are vulnerable to unnatural disruptions from in-state conflict, exporters' interests, and non-state actors targeting the supply and transportation of oil resources. The political and economic instability caused by war or other factors such as strike actioncan also prevent the proper functioning of the energy industry in a supplier country. For example, the nationalization of oil in Venezuela has triggered strikes and protests in which Venezuela's oil production rates have yet to recover. Exporters may have political or economic incentive to limit their foreign sales or cause disruptions in the supply chain. Since Venezuela's nationalization of oil, anti-American Hugo Chбvez threatened to cut off supplies to the United States more than once. The 1973 oil embargo against the United States is a historical example in which oil supplies were cut off to the United States due to U.S. support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. This has been done to apply pressure during economic negotiations--such as during the 2007 Russia-Belarus energy dispute. Terrorist attacks targeting oil facilities, pipelines, tankers, refineries, and oil fields are so common they are referred to as "industry risks". Infrastructure for producing the resource is extremely vulnerable to sabotage. One of the worst risks to oil transportation is the exposure of the five ocean chokepoints, like the Iraniancontrolled Strait of Hormuz. Anthony Cordesman, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., warns, "It may take only one asymmetric or conventional attack on a Gnawer Saudi oil field or tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to throw the market into a spiral."
New threats to energy security have emerged in the form of the increased world competition for energy resources due to the increased pace of industrialization in countries such as India and China, as well as due to the increasing consequences of climate change. Although still a minority concern, the possibility of price rises resulting from the peaking of world oil production is also starting to attract the attention of at least the French government. Increased competition over energy resources may also lead to the formation of security compacts to enable an equitable distribution of oil and gas between major powers. However, this may happen at the expense of less developed economies. The Group of Five, precursors to the G8, first met in 1975 to coordinate economic and energy policies in the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, a rise in inflation and a global economic slowdown. NATO leaders meeting in Bucharest Romania, in April 2008, may discuss the possibility of using the military alliance "as an instrument of energy security". One of the possibilities include placing troops in the Caucasus region to police oil and gas pipelines
Implications of energy imports. Today, much of the internationally-traded oil and gas comes from relatively few sources, and political instability there or in countries traversed by pipelines is a constant risk to supplies and hence a major economic vulnerability.
Coal supplies are more diverse geographically and less uncertain. Uranium is sourced from a still wider variety of countries geographically and politically, which gives it a very high rating in respect to energy security. It also comprises a very small part of the cost of power generation, so is a more affordable fuel to stockpile than fossil fuels.
In April 2014, following Russia's annexation of Crimea, the Polish prime minister called for a Europe-wide energy union including a single body charged with purchasing gas supplies, as a means of confronting "Russia's monopolistic position with a single European body charged with buying its gas". The dependence of at least ten of the EU's 28 members on Russian state-controlled gas exporter Gazprom for more than half their consumption highlighted the need for greater EU infrastructure, notably gas interconnection and storage. Member states should work more closely together on energy infrastructure to guarantee the security of supplies and better utilise fossil fuel resources in eastern EU states, particularly coal and shale gas, he said. LNG imports from the USA and Australia should be used. The EU's Euratom facilitates joint purchasing of uranium for nuclear power, showing what could happen with gas. Bilateral energy contracts should be made transparent and contract templates, along with a role for the European Commission, should be introduced. In the past seven years Poland had invested more than EUR 2 billion on gas storage and other infrastructure to diminish reliance on Russia.* It is also planning to build two large nuclear power plants totaling 6 GWe.
Uranium's low cost per unit of contained energy and its wide geographical and political availability do not remove all concerns regarding energy security. Some countries see the prospect of trade restrictions or transport disruptions affecting their security of supply, so seek to maximize not only indigenous sources of uranium (and other fuels) but also the transformation of uranium into reactor fuel - notably enrichment. But because so little uranium is needed to produce a large amount of electricity, and a few years supply is easily stockpiled, it is sometimes considered to be effectively an indigenous energy source.
Long-term security. Long-term measures to increase energy security center on reducing dependence on any one source of imported energy, increasing the number of suppliers, exploiting native fossil fuel or renewable energy resources, and reducing overall demand through energy conservation measures. It can also involve entering into international agreements to underpin international energy trading relationships, such as the Energy Charter Treaty in Europe. All the concern coming from security threats on oil sources long term security measures will help reduce the future cost of importing and exporting fuel into and out of countries without having to worry about harm coming to the goods being transported.
The impact of the 1973 oil crisis and the emergence of the OPEC cartel was a particular milestone that prompted some countries to increase their energy security. Japan, almost totally dependent on imported oil, steadily introduced the use of natural gas, nuclear power, high-speed mass transit systems, and implemented energy conservation measures. The United Kingdom began exploiting North Sea oil and gas reserves, and became a net exporter of energy into the 2000s.
In other countries energy security has historically been a lower priority. The United States, for example, has continued to increase its dependency on imported oil although, following the oil price increases since 2003, the development of biofuels has been suggested as a means of addressing this.
Increasing energy security is also one of the reasons behind a block on the development of natural gas imports in Sweden. Greater investment in native renewable energy technologies and energy conservation is envisaged instead. India is carrying out a major hunt for domestic oil to decrease its dependency on OPEC, while Iceland is well advanced in its plans to become energy independent by 2050 through deploying 100% renewable energy.
Renewable and independent
Renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, can provide energy security by reducing the reliance on international provision. Reiner said, while they may be at the mercy of the weather, their supply isn't affected by an election on the other side of the world.
“You might be buying the turbines from Denmark, Germany or China, but after they are built they are not reliant on what's going on in any particular year in the Gulf. You don't have to worry about the long-term prospects for Qatar or any of these other countries.”
However, though they do cut out foreign powers from the equation, renewables still suffer from the problem of security of supply. In order to take full advantage of their benefits, and short of a global interconnected system, governments may have to rethink the way local energy grids are managed.
The environmental benefits of renewable energy technologies are widely recognised, but the contribution that they can make to energy security is less well known. Renewable technologies can enhance energy security in electricity generation, heat supply, and transportation
Combined Power Plant. The Combined Power Plant, a project linking 36 wind, solar, biomass, and hydroelectric installations throughout Germany, has demonstrated that a combination of renewable sources and more-effective control can balance out short-term power fluctuations and provide reliable electricity with 100 percent renewable energy
Petroleum. Petroleum, otherwise known as "crude oil", has become the resource most used by countries all around the world including Russia, China (actually, China is mostly dependent on coal (70.5% in 2010)) and the United States of America. With all the oil wells located around the world energy security has become a main issue to ensure the safety of the petroleum that is being harvested. In the middle east oil fields become main targets for sabotage because of how heavily countries rely on oil. Many countries hold strategic petroleum reserves as a buffer against the economic and political impacts of an energy crisis. All 28 members of the International Energy Agency hold a minimum of 90 days of their oil imports, for example.
The value of such reserves was demonstrated by the relative lack of disruption caused by the 2007 Russia-Belarus energy dispute, when Russia indirectly cut exports to several countries in the European Union.
Due to the theories in peak oil and need to curb demand, the United States military and Department of Defense had made significant cuts, and have been making a number of attempts to come up with more efficient ways to use oil.
Natural gas. Compared to petroleum, reliance on imported natural gas creates significant shortterm vulnerabilities. Many European countries saw an immediate drop in supply when Russian gas supplies were halted during the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in 2006.
Natural gas has been a viable source of energy in the world. Consisting of mostly methane, natural gas is produced using two methods: biogenic and thermogenic. Biogenic gas comes from methanogenic organisms located in marshes and landfills, whereas thermogenic gas comes from the anaerobic decay of organic matter deep under the Earth's surface. Russia is the current leading country in production of natural gas.
One of the biggest problems currently facing natural gas providers is the ability to store and transport it. With its low density, it is difficult to build enough pipelines in North America to transport sufficient natural gas to match demand. These pipelines are reaching near capacity and even at full capacity do not produce the amount of gas needed.
Nuclear power. Although nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl, or geopolitical issues such as Iran are often cause for worry when talking of using nuclear energy, recent years have seen an emergent debate about the potential that nuclear energy offers as a large scale alternative to fossil fuels in a world where energy demands are rapidly increasing.
For some, the risks associated with the technology are too high and renewable energy is far safer, and has high potential. For others, nuclear is seen as either an unfortunate reality that will be essential part of the future mix or an area that has further potential.
Uranium for nuclear power is mined and enriched in diverse and "stable" countries.
These include Canada (23% of the world's total in 2007), Australia (21%), Kazakhstan (16%) and more than 10 other countries. Uranium is mined and fuel is manufactured significantly in advance of need. Nuclear fuel is considered by some to be a relatively reliable power source, being more common in the Earth's crust than tin, mercury or silver, though a debate over the timing of peak uranium does exist.
Nuclear power reduces carbon emissions. Although a very viable resource, nuclear power can be a controversial solution because of the risks associated with it.Another factor in the debate with nuclear power is that many people or companies simply do not want any nuclear energy plant or radioactive waste near them.
Heating. In those countries where growing dependence on imported gas is a pressing energy security issue, renewable energy technologies can provide alternative sources of electric power production as well as displacing electricity demand through production of direct heat. The IEA suggests that the direct contribution that renewable energy can make to domestic or commercial space heating and industrial process heat should be examined more closely. Heat from solar, geothermal sources, and heat pumps, is increasingly economic but is often overlooked in government programmes that promote public acceptance and provide incentives for renewable electricity and energy efficiency.
Solar heating systems are a well known technology and generally consist of solar thermal collectors, a fluid system to move the heat from the collector to its point of usage, and a reservoir or tank for heat storage. The systems may be used to heat domestic hot water, swimming pools, or homes and businesses. The heat can also be used for industrial process applications or as an energy input for other uses such as cooling equipment. In many warmer climates, a solar heating system can provide a very high percentage (50 to 75%) of domestic hot water energy.
Electricity generation. As the electricity grid becomes increasingly vulnerable to faults from equipment failure, willful attack or even sunspot activity, the risk of a major national scale grid failure is rising. The deployment of renewable technologies usually increases the diversity of electricity sources and, through local generation, contributes to the flexibility of the system and its resistance to central shocks. The IEA suggests that attention in this area has focused too much on the issue of the variability of renewable electricity production. However, this only applies to certain renewable technologies, mainly wind power and solar photovoltaics, and its significance depends on a range of factors which include the market penetration of the renewables concerned, the balance of plant and the wider connectivity of the system, as well as the demand side flexibility. Variability will rarely be a barrier to increased renewable energy deployment. But at high levels of market penetration it requires careful analysis and management, and additional costs may be required for back-up or system modification.
Renewable electricity supply in the 20-50+% penetration range has already been implemented in several European systems, albeit in the context of an integrated European grid system:
In 2010, four German states, totaling 10 million people, relied on wind power for 43-52% of their annual electricity needs. Denmark isn't far behind, supplying 22% of its power from wind in 2010 (26% in an average wind year). The Extremadura region of Spain is getting up to 25% of its electricity from solar, while the whole country meets 16% of its demand from wind. Just during 2005-2010, Portugal vaulted from 17% to 45% renewable electricity.
Minnkota Power Cooperative, the leading U.S. wind utility in 2009, supplied 38% of its retail sales from the wind.
Physicist Amory Lovins has said that following hundreds of blackouts in 2005, Cuba reorganized its electricity transmission system into networked microgrids and cut the occurrence of blackouts to zero within two years, limiting damage even after two hurricanes. Networked island-able microgrids describes Lovins' vision where energy is generated locally from solar power, wind power and other resources and used by super-efficient buildings. When each building, or neighborhood, is generating its own power, with links to other “islands” of power, the security of the entire network is greatly enhanced.
Secure future. However, despite all the efforts of governments, complete long-term energy independence - and therefore total security of supply - is a near impossibility. Reiner observed that, in an interconnected and fragmented world, one country is not able to consistently internally source everything it needs.
“You occasionally get those periods. Arguably, because of the shale gas revolution in the US, 40 years after project independence they're now accidentally somewhere near energy independence for maybe a few years. But, fundamentally, you're always fighting against the inevitability that you're going to be relying on foreign sources, and then it becomes a question of what can be an acceptable foreign source.” energy security nuclear solar
As such, energy security will remain a political issue, with countries continuing to make decisions as to what are acceptable investments, ownerships and imports. But, with the changing nature of the energy grid, a major rethink of who owns these critical pieces of public infrastructure seems inevitable.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_security https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-strategy-and-energy-union/energysecurity-strategy http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-aspects/energysecurity.aspx
https://www.westerncape.gov.za/110green/projects/energy-security-game-changer https://www.americansecurityproject.org/energy-security/ http://www.defence24.com/energy-security https://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/mrcbg/publications/awp/awp51 https://www.cbo.gov/publication/43012
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