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Sustainable Energy Notes

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G4: GEOGRAPHY REVISION Theme 4: Sustainable Energy Supply What problems are associated with the supply of energy?
→ Uneven distribution of resources
→ Areas of surplus and deficiency
→ Consumption of energy closely linked to development Factors affecting energy supply: Physical

Deposits of oil, gas and coal found in a limited number of locations (geological factors) Renewables are restricted by source availability E.g. relies on weather and environmental variables (tidal power relies on high tidal flow)


• Issues of accessibility and cost of extraction influence the speed of development E.g. Open cast mining = cheaper than deep mining

• In developing countries, FDI is essential to the development of energy resources (TNCs prefer to invest in politically stable environments)

• Exploitation depends on current energy prices (e.g. oil)

• Availability of developed technology can make resources economically viable Political

Countries wishing to develop nuclear need permission from authorities (fear of nuclear warfare development) HEP sites needs agreements from countries involved (located along the source) Government policy plays a major role in responding to the Kyoto Protocol and other agreements Cost of research and development = significant factor for renewables (NICs struggle to gain access to technology) Public perception is significant Energy conservation is an attraction (require political support)

Energy security Definition: Uninterrupted access to reliable sources of supply, at affordable prices, with extraction and utilisation not having an undue impact on the environment

Risks to energy security
→ Physical (exhaustion of reserves, natural disasters etc.)
→ Environmental (Protestors, local nimbyism - 'not in my backyard' etc.)
→ Economic (fluctuations in price etc.)
→ Geopolitical (political instability) Energy security depends on:

• Domestic fossil fuel reserves

• Domestic renewable potential

• Domestic energy mix

• Import pathway mix Impacts of energy insecurity:

• Price and payment disputes

• Pirates

Terrorism Political issues Technical interruption to production Producers supply simply runs out Natural disasters

Ways to control energy security:

• 'Carrot and stick' measures

• Develop new sustainable technologies Energy Security Index Uses 3 components to classify the countries:

• Availability

• Diversity

• Intensity

Energy resources

COAL Basic information:

• Fossil fuel

Relatively politically stable

25% of global energy supply


• Large amounts of CO2

Consumption expected to increase

Contributes to climate change


Air pollution


• Cheap fuel

Possible solutions:

• Carbon capture technology

NATURAL GAS Basic information:

• Fossil fuel

Leading market in Europe and Eurasia

Major source of electricity generation

Lots of resources in Russia


• Burns cleaner than other hydrocarbon fuels (oil and coal)

• Requires small amount of water (but this is polluted and put back into water supplies) Problems:

• Large amounts of CO2


Acid rain


Price increase

Lack of secure supply - political differences

Not easy to store/transport

Kyoto Protocol - moving towards natural gas (cleaner fuel)

OIL Basic information:

• Fossil fuel

Huge technological advancements (extraction not environmental protection)



• Easily extracted (currently)

• Used worldwide


• Becoming more expensive

• Production costs rising as the resource reduces

• Oil spills

• Huge amounts of pollution (whole process from extraction to use)

• Geopolitical tensions (Middle East - War in Iraq?)

• Lack of alternatives

NUCLEAR Basic information:

• Nuclear fission

• Generates electricity

• Many countries moving towards nuclear ( esp. France)

• Non-renewable ( may be reversed with fuel reprocessing)


• Lower pollution levels than fossil fuels Problems:

• Huge risks with storage and plants (e.g. Chernobyl and Fukashima)

Natural disasters pose an added risk

Pollution from plants

Expensive to build plants

Costly to decommission

WIND Basic information:

• Renewable

• Wind farms (offshore and onshore)

• Capturing natural energy

• Growing market (China's capacity keeps doubling)

Many debates over the safety of nuclear

Many incentives Consumes no fuel Only small areas unavailable for use


• Danger to wildlife (mainly birds)


Interrupts aerial and radio signals


• Creates jobs

• Produces no CO2

• Positive effect on air we breathe

• Needs tiny amounts of water

• Avoids risk of spills/radiation

• Low on-going costs

Perceived loud noise

High variability in production

HEP Basic information:

• Renewable

• Capturing natural energy

• Dams built

• Used worldwide


Dams attract tourists


• Produces CO2 and methane Eco-system damage

Unattractive dams


• Low operation costs

Technological challenges (physics issues of flow)

How and why is the demand for energy changing?

Information from the Resource Booklet:

America, Canada and Western Europe have excessive intake Sub-Saharan Africa below healthy calorie intake (Healthy = 2,100) Similarities between calorie and energy consumption

Figure 3 - indicators for food, energy and development

Germany has best/highest in


everything apart from percentage of commercial energy from renewable sources, which Brazil is significantly higher in WHY?  HEP

Kenya lowest in everything

More developed = more reliant on oil

Reasons why for the figures - common sense! Think about levels of development and the DTM

Measures of development

Gini highlights uneven wealth distribution

Happy Planet Index

Scores nearer to 100 = better


Combines environmental impact with human well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which people live long and happy lives

Figure 12 - Future energy demands in South Africa

Economy growth since 1999

Annual 4% growth

Global companies outsourcing to SA

Growth benifited industry

Added value to raw materials Lucrative opportunities for processing of iron, carbon steel etc

LEDC's export unprocessed raw materials

If they can process them, they gain more


Development if they sell processed raw materials


ISSUE  technology

More energy required to power industrialisation

Increasing affluence is increasing demand too

What do we use energy for?


Leisure and recreation






Does the demand for energy differ globally?

• Lower demand = less leisure

• Production energy used

• Higher demand in urban areas

• Still resultant of fossil fuels Examples of demand:

• Japan has none of its own natural resources

• Asian countries per capita use least energy (Africa not on graph)

• USA per capita = highest energy demand Economic:

• All countries demand is rising

• World energy consumption increase of 57% between 2004-2030 predicted

• Need to import energy to meet demands = cost increasing (e.g. UK)

• Reliance on other countries undermines energy security

• Economic growth depends on energy

• Leisure and social activities require energy

• NICs = massive increase in energy use

• BRICs/LEDCs = increase in consumption as they develop Social:

• LEDCs need energy to develop

• 2 billion without access to electricity

• 75% of rural households depend on firewood for cooking

• Entertainment requires energy Technological:

• Car ownership growing continuously

Globalisation, trade and transport

Energy transition model Identifies a number of stages they develop economically from economic take-off, to high mass

that countries pass through as traditional societies, through consumption

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