The major proportion of hydrocarbon is consumed by already developed countries like the US, Japan and Western European states.
2. What is energy crisis?
3. Share of energy resources in energy supply
4. World consumption distribution
5. World production distribution
6. Causes of crises
a) Surge in demand
b) Resource nationalism ‘tighter supply
c) Political uncertainty
d) Lack of diversity
7. Impact of crises
8. Environmental concerns
9. Way out: Renewable energy
Nevertheless many other sources of energy: hydro, solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal, biogas and wave have been taped. These sources of energy are not only renewable but clean as well. Since the hydrocarbons are exhaustible and their use also threatens human health and environment; this fact has necessitated transformation from non-renewable energy resources to renewable and clean energy resources so that economic growth could be sustained and environmental degradation could be prevented.
Energy is not only vital for the industry but it is also the life blood of our daily life. The consumption of fossil fuels has increased manifolds due to rapid industrialisation of developing countries like China and India. However, the major proportion of hydrocarbon is consumed by already developed countries like the US, Japan and Western European states. The fossil fuels are also the main source of energy for heating of houses and running motor vehicles and generation of electricity. Since the demand has been increased far more than the increase in the production of fossil fuels, a disproportionate imbalance between the demand and supply has been created which has resulted in energy crisis.
If the fossil fuel production remains constant, it is estimated that the reserves will be depleted soon. The oil crisis of 2008, when petrol prices soared to $150 a barrel, was an early symptom of such scenario. The increasing demand coupled with speculations of depletion of fossil fuels caused sky rocketing rise in the prices, which was the principal catalyst behind economic crises in the world.
The energy crises are caused due to disproportionate dependence on non-renewable energy resources fossil fuels. The hydrocarbons; coal oil and gas together constitute 85 per cent of the world’s total energy supply. Their respective share is oil 37 per cent; coal 25 per cent and gas 23 per cent (total 85 per cent).
On the other hand the renewable resources of energy; hydro, solar, wind, nuclear, geothermal, biogas and wave constitute only 15 per cent of global share of energy supply. These are also clean sources of energy. Despite their enormous benefits, the renewable sources of energy have not been exploited sufficiently due to many reasons. The reasons may include technological barriers, initial cost and political compulsions. Both the least developed and developing countries mainly face technological backwardness and barriers, while the developed countries have been too slow and reluctant to transfer their technology due to the higher cost and political reasons.
The world distribution of energy consumption reveals that the most developed countries are the highest consumers of fossil fuels. The US, which is the most advanced country technologically and richest economically, consumes 25 per cent of the total world energy output while its population makes only five per cent of the world. This makes America the highest per capita energy consuming nation. Second comes Japan, which consumes six per cent. The Western European countries which are also technologically advanced consume 15 per cent of the world energy. China, a growing economy, consumes nine per cent of the world energy resources. However, the rest of the world consumes only 45 per cent of energy production.
If the fossil fuel production remains constant, it is estimated that the reserves will be depleted soon. The oil crisis of 2008, when petrol prices soared to $150 a barrel, was an early symptom of such scenario.
Fears of global warning aside, burning fossil fuel releases chemicals and particulates that cause cancer, brain and nerve damage, birth defects, lung injury, and breathing problems.
Such importance of energy has made it important element in the foreign policies of the independent states. The 20th century and dawn of the 21st century have seen wars fought for oil. In 1977, CIA prepared a plan ‘Go to war to get oil’ and subsequently, the US went to war with Iraq in 1991Gulf war. America is again there for the same purpose.
Similarly China’s foreign policy towards many regions of the world particularly Africa, the Middle East and Caspian Sea region, oil holds a critical status. China’s vibrant policies in these regions are being watchfully monitored by Washington. This is also true for South Asian region. Pakistan is engaged with Iran for gas pipeline project and is equally interested in the Caspian Sea region ‘Central Asian States.
Besides these conflicts, the fossil fuels cause havoc to our environment. The hydrocarbons are the chief source of green house gases-carbon dioxide, Methane, fluorine, which cause global warning. Burning coal accounts for 43 per cent of carbon emissions. Oil and gas account for another 40 per cent of emissions of CO2.
Fears of global warning aside, burning fossil fuel releases chemicals and particulates that cause cancer, brain and nerve damage, birth defects, lung injury, and breathing problems. The toxics released by combusting hydrocarbons pollute the air and water and causes acid rain and smog. These negative implications of burning fossil fuels on human environment and life make it incumbent upon man to diversify the energy resources.
Man also needs to realise that the fossil fuel energy is limited and would be depleted. Hennery Kissinger had said, The amount of energy is finite. And competition for access to energy can become the life and death for many societies.
First; the solar energy, the basic source of energy, can be converged and converted into different ways, such as simple water heating for domestic use or by the direct conversion of sunlight to electrical energy using mirrors, boilers or photovoltaic cells. Currently only 0.5 per cent of the world energy supply is obtained from this source.
The energy crises are caused due to disproportionate dependence on non-renewable energy resources fossil fuels. The hydrocarbons; coal oil and gas together constitute 85 per cent of the world’s total energy supply.
Fifth; biomass is also a potential source of energy. Humans have been burning biomass materials since the dawn of time. It has been recently discovered to produce clean combustible gas from waste products such as sewerage and crop residue. Many countries have also invested in bio-fuels. However, this is counter-productive as it induced rise in food prices, therefore only bio waste should be used for energy production.
Sixth; another alternate source of oil is methanol ‘a clear colourless liquid made from natural gas, coal industrial garbage. This is a reliable source of fuel for automobiles as it is cheaper and far easier to be produced in bulk.
Seventh; geothermal energy can be used with heat pumps to warm a buildings or swimming pools in winter. This can lessen the need for other power to maintain comfortable temperatures in buildings, particularly in countries having very cold winters.
Eighth; hydrogen has been touted as the fuel of the future. It is most abundant element known in the universe and can be burnt as a fuel for vehicles and industry. If this form of energy is taped at a larger scale, it will eventually become society’s primary energy carrier in the 21st century.
The media and industry claim that renewable energies are not yet economically competitive fossil fuels. Perhaps not; but given the health and environmental costs, and limit of fossil fuels, the price of renewable energy is only viable option. However, no renewable energy form will single handedly replace oil, but together they will become a very important part of the energy mix of the future.
As the demand of energy is set to grow rapidly during next 20 years the supply of energy is going to decline, which could give rise to competition and conflict coupled with economic instability. Meanwhile, human environmental and health hazards could become irrecoverable. Therefore, man should strive for energy independence that can be achieved only through fuel choice and competition. And the first choice of sustainable energy is the clean and renewable energy.