Energy use is a basic fact of modern day life. People all over the world use energy for just about every task they do in a day. From heating homes during cold snaps or keeping the lights on, having a constant supply of reliable electricity is essential for most. So it becomes a major problem when that energy becomes increasingly expensive and inaccessible to many people, particularly those most vulnerable in society. This has been seen across Europe in recent months leading to a drastic increase in the cost of living across the continent. This unprecedented rise in costs has been tough for most, with household bills increasing, lowering the disposable income of many middle income families. However for some this energy price hike could be fatal. For the poorest in society this price hike may mean choosing between heating their home and feeding their family. So what has caused this unfortunate situation and what are the potential implications on the future of energy?
Gas cut off risks
Well the short answer is… Well many reasons, different geopolitical events causing issues in many ways. The main and most recent factor is likely the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This unjust invasion was suitably met by the imposition of strong trade sanctions against Russia from many countries all over the world. Russia is a major worldwide supplier of oil, sourcing the vast amounts from siberian oil fields and exporting it to the rest of the world. Sanctions against Russia have led to the amount of oil exported from Russia to drop significantly.
A huge share of Russian oil exports traveled down various large pipes such as Nord Stream 1 to European countries, making up a large portion of European oil imports. With the recent tensions escalating, Russia has closed many of its largest pipes for maintenance, with some suspecting that the pipes will remain closed indefinitely, cutting off Europe from a major source of energy. This has left Europe scrambling to fortify its energy reserves, with the EU passing new laws that require natural gas storage (another fuel for electricity generation) be at 80% capacity before winter.
The resulting reduced electricity supply from European Power plants has led to a shortfall in supply when compared to demand, causing energy prices to increase. This has led to the EU taking drastic measures to replace electrical capacity such as temporarily reopening and re-commissioning disused coal fired electrical plants. This is obviously not a good step for the environment given the number of pollutants produced by coal plants but has been deemed a necessary evil by European leaders.
Many are concerned that if left unchecked energy prices could get much, much worse as we go into winter. Historically energy usage increases significantly in the winter as people increase the heating of their homes to respond to lower temperatures. With recent winter temperatures and weather being more unpredictable and harsh many are concerned that people will not be able to heat their homes sufficiently potentially causing a threat to health.
Stop the wind or block the sun?
So what does the future of energy look like? What effect will this recent crisis have on the world and the way it generates electricity? Well it is hard to say, particularly at a worldwide scale. This could be beneficial to the world in the long run. The world now realises the dangers of relying on Russian gas to provide its energy and the political dangers this could present. Russia could stop supplying oil at any point over a political argument,throwing the continent's energy prices back up.
Many countries do not want to expose themselves to this risk and are now looking to improve the self sufficiency of their electrical grids. A great way of achieving this going forward for many of these countries is to increase investment in renewable energy sources. After all, no one can stop the wind or block out the sun, resulting in an entirely self-sufficient system. So the Russian invasion of Ukraine may accelerate the adoption of renewable energy worldwide. The world really is all connected!
So what lesson can you personally take from this? You can't personally have a meaningful effect on the geopolitical impacts on energy supply right? Well yes that would be correct for unfortunately. But! You can take a page out of many of the countries of the world at the moment and become more self sufficient. And what's brilliant is that you can do it in exactly the same way as many of the countries! By simply increasing investment in renewable energy!
Your long run investment
Installing a renewable energy system on your home, business or property will allow you to generate your own electricity, completely independent of outside influences (other than the weather of course) so you can keep generating electricity without worrying about the worldwide energy market. It might even be beneficial to you, any excess energy you generate could be sold to the grid at inflated prices! Netting you a nice bonus. It is of course a fairly large initial investment but in the long run it will save you money!
If you are interested in a renewable energy system for your home, TESUP has some great options. Have a look at the TESUP store page if you are so inclined!