What is this topic about?• Energy is fundamental to our lives, and we often take it for granted• This topic explores our energy supply, and asks challenging questions about it• Can we continue to rely on fossil fuels, or do we need a radical switch in energy sources?• Energy is very closely linked to climate change as fossil fuels (our main energy source) are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.
CONTENTS 1. Energy supply, demand and security 2. The impacts of energy insecurity 3. Energy security and the futureClick on the information icon to jump to that section.Click on the home button to return to this contents page
1. Energy supply, demand and security There are a wide range of energy resources, with different security of supply and environmental issues: Non-renewable Renewable RecyclableA finite stock of resources, A flow of resources, which Can be used repeatedly, which will run out is infinite in human terms if managed carefullyCoal, oil, gas (plus oil shale, Wind, solar, hydroelectric, Biomass, nuclear (with tar sands, lignite etc.) wave, tidal, geothermal reprocessing of fuel)•Significant environmental •May require large areas •Large land area needed impacts during extraction (solar arrays, wind farms) for biomass.(oil wells, opencast mines) for operation. •Largely unresolved issues•Greenhouse gas emissions •NIMBY issues. of storing high level during use, and acidic •Limited / no greenhouse radioactive waste. emissions emissions.
Life cycle analysisLife cycle analysis accounts for C02 emissions at all stagesof the energy supply chain, not simply during use • Comparing the environmental impact of different energy sources is a challenge • Life cycle greenhouse emissions is one approach • Even this does not account for NIMBY issues (e.g. windfarms), or the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity linked to extraction of fossil fuels • Some sources, such as nuclear and biomass are highly controversial and there is intense debate over their ‘green’ credentials.
Access to energy • Direct access to fossil fuel reserves is a coincidence of geological history and international boundaries. • Some countries find themselves with more fossil fuel sources than their needs • Others have none • Reserves run down over time, as is the gas with the UK’s once abundant North Sea oil and gas • Remaining oil and gas will increasingly concentrate in the Middle East over the next 30 years. Top 15 countries by oil, gas and coal reserves in 2008
Access to renewables• Most renewable energy is constrained by physical geography, and especially climate• This means its availability is place specific UK renewable potential• The UK has significant renewable potential, especially wind, although it is a small country with limited land area; most HEP sites are already used.• Many renewables are intermittent energy sources, so energy must be stored (very costly and technically difficult) or backed up by another source Source Physical limitations Wind Requires wind speeds of 8-25 mph Solar PV Works best in areas of over 6 kwh per sq. metre per day Biomass Requires large land area for feedstock HEP Suitable valleys i.e. long, deep and relatively narrow, and predictable water supply
Access to energy• Which energy sources are used is not simply a matter of which fossil fuels or renewable forms are available in a country• Other factors influence choice of energy sources• Cost is critical, as people are sensitive to energy sources• Nuclear power station construction ground to a standstill after the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
Energy poverty• Lack of access to energy resources is common in the developing world• Reliance of fuel wood, farm waste and dung is high and fossil fuel consumption low• Up to 40% of the world’s population rely on these sources as their primary cooking and heating fuel• Close to 2 billion people have no access to electricity• Access to cheap, reliable energy is strongly related to development as so much of ‘modern’ life and industry depends on it.
Demand• Global demand for energy has risen dramatically, especially since the 1960s• Demand doubled between 1960 and 1980• Growth in demand has been slower since 1980, but is projected to rise by up to 60% between 2002 and 2030 and continue upward.• The BRIC countries, as well as other large developing nations (Mexico, Indonesia) have contributed to much to recent increases in demand and are likely to do so in the future.• Further industrialisation inevitably brings demands for cars and consumer goods, all of which need power.
Security• Energy security depends on a number of factors (see table)• Countries with a diverse Domestic fossil Domestic renewable energy ‘mix’ are less at risk fuel reserves potential than those relying on 1 or 2 sources Countries like Italy and Small, crowded nations like Japan have few of their Singapore and South Korea• Renewable potential could own resources lack renewable potential be used to offset declining fossil fuel reserves or Domestic energy Import pathway mix risk supply interruptions• Reliance on long distance France relies heavily on The UK imports gas from international trade in fossil nuclear power, and the Russia and Qatar, both long UK on gas. distance pathways. fuels may be risky• Demand and dependency are important too, as it is difficult to replace a large amount of oil with another energy source for instance
2. The impacts of energy insecurity• Fossil fuel supply regions are poorly matched with areas of largest demand• This is especially true for oil and gas• Energy must flow along international pathways from producer to consumer• These are either pipelines (oil and gas), bulk carriers (coal, uranium), LNG tankers (gas) or oil tankers. Electricity is also exported / imported.• Pathways could be disrupted, increasing energy insecurity.
Risks of disruption• Gas pipeline disruption has already occurred, as disputes between Russia and Ukraine disrupted European gas supplies in 2006 and 2009• Russia holds 25% of world gas reserves, the Middle East 40% (and 56% of oil)• Disruption to narrow ocean choke points (see map) could seriously affect the flow of oil• Countries close to some choke points are unstable (Iran, Somalia, Yemen)
Risks of disruption• There are real risks if oil and gas UK energy disruption supplies are disrupted. Oct Oil crisis; petrol• Any potential disruption is 1973 rationing headline news Sept UK wide fuel protests• So dependent are we on cheap, 2000 over price and tax uninterrupted energy supplies that disruption could lead to: Aug Further UK protests; 2005 Hurricane Katrina pushes1. Soaring energy costs and rising oil prices higher energy poverty2. Pressure on politicians to act; Aug Oil at $147 a barrel possibly rationing energy 20083. Civil disruption Jan National Grid ‘gas4. Rising costs for industry, job losses 2010 balancing alerts’ are and recession headline news ; gas supply from Norway5. Unsound decisions (economically drops on technical and environmentally) to rapidly problems develop alternative sources6. Diplomatic conflict
Supply: new sources• As oil prices remain high, and fears of ‘peak oil and gas’ increase the search is on for new sources: Example Source Technical challenge Environmental impactsCanadian Bitumen combined MODERATE HIGH(Athabasca) with sand / rock Strip mining or extraction by Energy intensive extractiontar sands under boreal forests; steam; gas is used to heat and destruction of close to surface the sands and extract oil. ecosystemsArctic oil Conventional oil in LOW MODERATE fragile wilderness Conventional drilling and Fragile environment but region, both on and extraction; Arctic oil has production has relatively offshore been taken from Prudhoe small footprint Bay for decades.West of Conventional oil in HIGH LOWShetland, deep ocean water Production began in 1997, Low risk of spills andFoinaven field but using ‘floating’ rigs limited impact on sea bedUSA (Green Bitumen encased in MODERATE HIGHRiver) oil solid rock Opencast mining, then can Large areas mined, scarringshale be directly burnt or heated landscape and energy to drive off oil. intensive production
Viable alternatives?• The chart below shows the estimates oil price required for each energy resource to be competitive with oil and gas without any form of State support or subsidy Economic viability of energy sources Offshore wind Onshore wind European biodiesel USA Corn ethanol Sugar cane ethanol Tar sands Coal to liquids Oil Shale Deep water oil Conventional Oil other Conventional Oil Middle East 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Oil price US$ Source: the FT 2009
Players• The diagram below summarises the role of some key players in the energy supply
Big oil: TNCs and OPEC‘Supermajor’ TNCs State owned oil giants • Supermajor andTotal Fr Saudi Aramco Saudi Arabia other oil and gas TNCs control mostBP UK Gazprom Russia oil and gasShell UK/Nl CNPC China extraction,Chevron USA Petrobras Brazil refining and distribution.ExxonMobil USA NOIC Iran • State owned oilConocoPhilips USA PDVSA Venezuela companies own / control access to 95% of world oil and gas reserves • OPEC is effectively a price control cartel, with considerable power.
3. Energy security and the future• There are several key uncertainties relating to energy futures:• Future demand is uncertain – it partly depends on future population and economic growth• The lifespan of fossil fuel reserves, especially oil, is unknown• The extent to which we exploit unconventional oil (see image)• The extent and timing of switching from fossil fuel to renewables is uncertain.• Peak oil and gas are important; after peak production prices can only rise.
The nuclear option?• Opinion is divided over whether Advantages Disadvantages nuclear power is the answer •Fuel sources (see •Public distrust.• It provides about 15% of the map) •High initial cost. world’s electricity, but only 2% of •Low life cycle •Long build times. all energy needs carbon emissions. •High level waste• There are over 400 reactors in 30 •Constant power disposal. countries, but few currently output •Fears of terrorism. •Takes up little •Nuclear being built space . proliferation. •Large power output •Technically per plant challenging
Biofuels?• Biofuels have the advantage of being flexible liquids• As such they can replace diesel (biodiesel) and petrol (bio- ethanol)• However, they require food crops as feedstocks (sugar cane, maize etc)• This means land that could be used for food.• In 2007-08 explosive growth of biofuel crop area was blamed for Future biofuels might not use pushing up global food prices food crops:• Biofuels are not carbon neutral, 1st generation – food crops 2nd generation – crop wastes because of the energy used in 3rd generation – algae farming, transport and refining.
Geopolitics• There are a number of sources of tension, both present and future, related to energy security and the threat of insecurity: Scenario Explanation Consequences Oil hits $100 •Sustained oil price of over $100 per •Prolonged economic recession barrel, for several years. and rising fuel poverty in OECD countries Middle East •Tensions in the Gulf escalate into war •Interruption of oil and gas flows; between Muslim factions; possibly rising prices; tension between meltdown involving Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Turkey China and USA to secure oil supply and others. The nuclear •Wholesale shifting towards nuclear to •Power stations become ‘soft replace fossil fuels, leads to global spread targets’ for terrorism; enriched option of nuclear power and technology uranium and depleted plutonium get into the wrong hands…. Energy •The Gulf States hold 60%+ of oil reserves •Energy superpowers begin to and Russia/Qatar/ Iran 60%+ of gas; the ‘name their price’ and take care superpowers world has not shifted to renewables. of their friends; major geopolitical shifts Arctic attack •Canada, Russia, USA and EU begin to •A war or words over who has the exploit the Arctic for oil and gas, but right to exploit what, quickly without clear delineation of territorial becomes a new cold war – possibly areas. a hot one……
Future challenges• What are our energy Mix it up Technology for all •Wind, solar and others can be challenges in 2010? used to diversify energy •Aid could be used to help developing nations grow their There are some that sources. renewable sectors are obvious: •This would increase security, •Intermediate technology is• Reduce dependency but could also reduce key to this. greenhouse emissions. on fossil fuels to •They need energy, but increase energy without greenhouse emissions. security Tax it down Self generation• Increase renewable •Green taxes i.e. taxing fossil •Homes can generate fuel use, could encourage renewable energy using ground energy use as fossil efficiency source heat pumps, micro- fuels become more wind and solar PV / thermal •Greenhouse emissions would expensive / peak fall as efficiency rises •This would diversify the• Reduce greenhouse energy mix, reduce emissions •The dirtiest fuels could be and increase self-reliance. gas emissions taxed the most.• Increase access to energy in developing nations