By Gvantsa Kvirikashvili
How the world's future energy needs will be met?
In this era of globalisation, when, more than ever, this question is posed, energy studies are becoming more and more relevant. It is a valuable set of knowledge for those who are interested not only in the specifics of energy studies but in the role of energy security in international relations.
The capacity of the region to turn its resources into development, which on its own brings growth, job creation, and poverty reduction for its own people, is for sure influenced by its energy resources. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, energy has been regarded as a "commanding height" of any economy and has reached the stature of political challenge. Therefore, it is crucial to first understand the notion of energy security and how it's perceived nowadays.
Increased discoveries of reserves led to increased trade. As a common starting point, natural gas reserves are considered of national interest, similar to oil reserves. Many countries have established concessionary schemes, regulating the exploration and production activities, investments, and royalties of private industry, such as in the US, the UK, and Australia. In other countries, the state is engaged via (partial) state ownership, whereby international oil companies (IOCs) form joint ventures with national oil companies (NOCs) and share the profits of the gas exploitation.
The 2000s: Closure again?
Since 2003, high prices have remained as there are low investments in the industry from both governments and international companies. Governments all around the globe have intervened in the operation and management of the upstream and downstream industries to safeguard national interests and security. The most well-known example of producer-led collective government action is OPEC. These coordinating mechanisms, on the other hand, have been viewed as market flaws.
The networks have been gradually internationalised, joining the US and Canadian systems, the systems within Europe, and, more recently, the systems within Asia with extensions to the Middle East. The recent internationalization of the value chain moved the energy sector from the realm of national utility and economic policy into the arena of ‘high politics’ of international affairs among states. Energy security is primarily seen as a non-military issue. It first received political prominence during the 1970s and 1980s crisis and has maintained a significant security profile since energy costs began to rise in the 2000s.
The prevailing idea of energy security has been designed to favour one meaning: international oil supply security. Energy security is fundamentally about guaranteeing secure access to services; yet, in reality, what is secured is influenced by power dynamics. For instance, 1.6 billion people in the globe still do not have access to electricity, and over 2.4 billion still cook and heat their homes with traditional biomass. These individuals are the ones that suffer from energy insecurity, yet their problems are regarded as concerns of poverty and underdevelopment.
Costs of energy are an important factor in a country’s economy and in the rate of inflation. These days, years after the oil crisis, worries about oil supply security are being raised in the face of rising demand. Energy-producing countries, especially from the Global South, acquired greater access to a bigger share of energy and enhanced their economic and political influence throughout the 1970s and 2000s. This caused concern among energy-consuming states, particularly in the industrialized North, which translated into heightened concerns about energy security.
Thus, the increased demand in the subject of energy studies is a result of increased worries about energy security. All throughout the world, the usage of fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — is growing. In many countries, on the other hand, environmental protection and resource management regulations and laws, such as CO2 emission reduction policies and local licensing processes, are increasingly affecting energy exploration and production.
These events are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to climate change, an issue that is only going to get worse with time. However, multiple renewable energy sources such as water, wind, biomass, solar thermal, and solar photovoltaic energy can be examined. The technology we use to consume energy and how that energy is generated have a direct influence on the quantity of energy we consume as a global society. Future energy systems will emit significantly less carbon, be more renewable, efficient, and adaptable. This means that studying energy entails being a part of the transition to a more sustainable energy system, making the training of the next generation in this discipline extremely significant. You'll build the skills needed by energy professionals and innovators in research, management, and governance by gaining a holistic grasp of the field.
Involved in the energy field means being engaged directly with the complex reality of the present energy production challenge; providing more energy to more people while reducing carbon emissions in the system. Aside from the prospects in the fast-growing energy sector that students get, energy studies involve a commitment to support research and teaching on the climate challenge, which appears to be a major global issue for the current generation. These issues are so widespread that there isn't a field that isn't affected by them, and the energy sector is undoubtedly one of them.