the world population is constantly growing and demands are increasing. more e and more food and supplies are needed to meet the ever-growing population. to produce all these supplies, energy is needed. the most popular and common energy resource currently is fossil fuels. however, this source of energy is limited and while it does occur naturally, it is unrenewable. fossil fuels are used for industrial production, in machinery, used for vehicle fuel and for electricity, and in our daily lives. our energy supply is diminishing at such a rapid rate. scientists are using technology to try and find renewable sources of energy. if we run out of energy, imagine how big of an impact this would have on the world. thus, today we are diving into the topic of an energy crisis.
here are the factors of energy crisis that we will be learning about today:
what is a energy crisis?
what are the uses of energy?
what energy resources do we have?
is the level of energy consumption the same everywhere why do levels of energy consumption differ?
how does it impact us?(society, domestic, industrial, production)
how can an energy crisis be prevented/avoided? how can we solve this problem?
What is an energy crisis?
An energy crisis happens when the supply of energy(fossil fuels, oil, coal) is not able to meet the demands of society. fossil fuels help to produce electricity, power industrial factories, and machinery, and it is used in our everyday lives. An energy crisis will result in an increase in energy costs and people will find it harder to gain access to energy supply.
as countries continue to improve and expand their infrastructure, expand their industries and increase their standard of living due to growing affluence, more energy is needed to meet higher demand.
First, let us find out where does our energy come from.
When we turn on the television, the electricity that flows from the power socket to the television probably comes from a power station.But how do power stations generate electricty, and what do they use to produce this electricity?
to answer this question, we first need to look at energy resources. energy resources refers to anything that can be used for energy to do work, such as powering up buildings with electricity, or producing energy for industrial factories to function. An energy resource can be something that produces heat, electricty, or light.
natural energy resources can be renewable or non-renewable. renewable resources are resources that can be used without being depleted or can be restored naturally. An example of a renewable resource is solar energy, which uses solar panels to captures sunlight from the sun. Non-renewable resources are resources that cannot be replenished and have a limited quantity. although fossil fuels can be replenished naturally, they take millions of years to be formed and have to form by decayed plants and animals.
Different uses of energy
Electricity generated in power stations is delivered through power lines to homes for usage. Electricity is needed for many appliances in our home, such as the stove, fridge, air conditioner, nd our devices. besides using fossil fuels as energy to generate electricity, it is also refined to give us other products such as plastics, synthetic fibers, and synthetic rubbers. energy is also used for heat. many appliances also use heat as well, such as stoves, water heaters, nd more.
The industrial use of fossil fuels is the most common use of fossil fuels. they are used as an energy source to power machines in factories for the processing and manufacturing of goods. fossil fuels are burnt to produce electricity and energy to power up machines.
Fossil fuels such as oil are used extensively in fuelling our transportation systems.the process of refining oil produces jet fuel, gasoline and diesel. Jet fuel is used to power aerolanes, gasoline is used in cars and diesel is used in heavy trucks.
Is the level of energy consumption the same everywhere?
Earlier, you learnt that an energy crisis is characterised by depleting fossil fuels reserves and an increase in energy costs. In this section, we will take a closer look at the world energy consumption and how differenet countries use energy.
energy consumption of the world
energy consumption refers to the amount of energy used. It differs between countries and regions. the northern hemisphere generally consumes more energy than the southern hemisphere. Most countries in the northern hemisphere such as the USA, Canada, France, and Russia, consume more than 150 million British thermal units of energy per capita. In the southern hemisphere, many countries consume less than 149 million British thermal units per capita. These countries include Brazil, Nigeria, India, and South Africa.
Now we will look at some countries energy consumption and the types of energy used.
This shows that China’s energy consumption per capita in 2009 was 1.1 tones of oil equivalent. this was lower than that of the USA and even Singapore. One reason for such low consumption of energy per capita in China is that the economies of the USA and Singapore developed much earlier than that of China, although it has been expanding rapidly the past few decades.
More than a third of China’s energy came from coal. In fact, it has one of the biggest coal reserves in the world and contributes to almost half of the world’s coal consumption. Many parts of China use coal bricks for cooking and heating purposes. Another one-third of its energy came from other sources including hydropower, nuclear, and solar power.
United States of America
In 2009, the United States of America energy consumption was more than four times of China, although China is a bigger country, and the rest of the world.
More than half of the USA energy consumption came from oil. Even though it is one of the top oil producers in the world, it consumes so much oil that it has to import 60 percent of the oil it uses. Most of the oil is used for trnasportation and vehicles. A small amount of energy came from coal-only 2 percent of the total energy sources. Much of the energy generated ffrom coal was replaced by other energy sources such as oil and natural gas after WW2.
how does an energy crisis impact us?
Depletion of fossil fuel reserves
this would be the first factor that is affected, considering the rate that we are using these sources of energy. If we continue using fossil fuels at the rate that we do today, a shortage may occur.
Of all the fossil fuels, oil is the main energy source used in the industrialised world. If current trends in population growth, economic growth and energy use continue, oil supplies will decline unless new sources of oil are discovered.
There are a few reasons for declining fossil fuel reserves. First, oil wells are running dry. On example is the Daqing oilfield in China where oil output has been decreasing since 1997 after decades of oil production. Also, the cost of having to drill deeper into the ground to get oil makes it more unprofitable.
Fossil fuel reserves may one day be no longer sufficient to meet the world demand. Decreasing oil supplies may cause the price of producing the oil to rise and this will result in a higher cost of energy use. When the demand for fossil fuels cannot be met, we might have to find out other sources of energy or it would result in an energy crisis. More fossil fuel reserves may be discovered, but this would depend on technological advancements. For example, it is now possible to extract natural gas from shale gas reserves, which is natural gas trapped in shale, a sedimentary rock.
Increase in energy costs
When the demand for fossil fuels increases,the price of fossil fuels may rise due to higher demand. thecost of goods produced from fossil fuels will therefore increase.if we look at the historical prices of coal, and its impact on the price of coal. the widespread use of coal began in the 18th century during the Industrial Revolution. with the advances in transportation and machinery, coal became an important energy source.thus, this increase in demand for coal led to a gradual rise in its price since 1720.
As mentioned earlier, improved technology has made it possible to tap into more gas deposits such as shale gas. At present, only some countries are using more gas for their energy needs, for example, Japan and Singapore, however, if there Is an increase in the demand for gas by more countries in the future, this may drive up the price of gas.
Social and domestic impact of rising energy costs
As the energy consumption increases, blackouts may occur due to an unexpected power trip.however, in some countries, planned blackouts are used to decrease demand of elecricity and allow each household to only use a limited amount of electricty. by making electricity unavaliable for certain periods of the day, energy consumption is reduced to help the power supply network cope with the demand for electricity. Scheduled or planned blackouts are usually during extreme cold or hot seasons.
Frequent interruptions to electricty supply, regardless of whether it is planned, can be inconveninet for homes and businesses.
Some people are unable to keep up with rising energy costs. in some cases, electricty supply to certain homes may be cut off if people fail to pay their electricty bills. Not having access to electricity can be disatrous. if electricty is cut off, people are not able to shower, cook, watch TV, or basically anything that has to do with using electricity.
Increased costs of living
Cost of living refers to the price of goods and services that must be paid in order to mantain a certain standard of living.(e.g having sufficient food, showering, e.g)
the biggest impact of higher energy costs on goods may be that on food prices. energy is needed to power farm machinery and transport seeds, fertilisers and farm produce. It is also needed in factories to produce and package food for sale. A rise in energy costs will lead to an increase of producing food also.
increased energy costs will also lead to higher prices for basic necessities such as shelter and clothing, and other goods such as cars and computers, and services, such as education and healthcare, will also rise.producing goods in industries and factories require energy, and schools also use energy for electricity and other uses, and hospitals use even more energy for healthcare equipments. therefore, we may not be able to maintain our current standard of living.
Economic impact of rising energy costs
increased energy costs means that goods and services will be sold at a higher price if they want to receive the same amount of profit as before, as there will be increased cost of electricty, of raw materials, and transport. however this will mean that the volume of sales may drop as fewer people are able to afford the higher priced goods and services. an increase in price will reduce competitiveness between companies to attract businessses, customers or sales.
how can we avoid an energy crisis?
earlier, we learned that our supply of fossil fuels will run out soon if we continue to consume them at high rates. We need to use our energy resources in a sustainable manner or find new sources of energy.
1.reduce energy consumption
energy conservation in domestic homes
energy conservation refers to attempts to reduce energy consumption.this can be done through making certain choices and changes in our lifestyle and changing habits.How can we reduce consumption of energy in our houses?
One way is to ensure energy is not wasted , especially when it is not in use.
Some appliances have standby functions which will consume energy even when they are not in use, for example a computer that might have not been shut down can still consume energy. thus, when we are finished using appliances, we should shut them down completly or switch them off at the power socket.
We can also save a large amount of energy by decreasing the temperatures of our heaters or increasing the temperatures of our air conditioners. thus, these appliances will use less energy to function.
We can also choose a lifestyle that helps to save energy. For example, we can use public transport instead of cars. this reduces the number of vehicles on the road and the energy needed to power these vehicles.
2.Efficient usage of energy
using more energy efficient products or appliances will help to prevent energy from being wasted. it refers to the ability to reduce the amount of energy to provide the same level of energy service. however, these products or appliances might be more expensive as they are energy-saving.
Certain buildings or houses are also built to conserve energy, or have energy-efficient features implemented.these buildings are also sometimes known as green builidings.
some features of a energy-efficient building are:
-having solar panels installed on the top of the buildings
-these buildings often have many windows to allow natural sunlight in, so as to reduce the need of lightning, as they are designed for natural lightning, thus it reduces the use of artificial lightning.
– they also have energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as appliances
-uses non-toxic and sustainable materials
-plants are often grown on top of the roofs along with solar panels(this makes use of the space on the roof)
3.Use alternative energy sources
As fossil fuels are a non renewable resource, strategies to avoid an energy crisis must go beyond reducing energy consumption and also include other alternative energy sources. Many countries have explored alternative energy sources, especially renewable energy, which is expected to contribute up to 50 percent of the world energy supply in the future. however, this comes with implications, such as expenses, and include other factors that may affect this sources as well.
some examples of renewable energy are solar, hydropower, wind and nuclear. however, some of these require certain factors and conditions to be able to produce energy. for example, solar panels only will produce energy in the daytime as it requires sunlight, and wind power requires wind to blow constantly. they also use up space and affect wildlife and nature. Nuclear plants are radioactive and leakages of radioactive waste can pose a threat to the environment.
energy, just like water and food, is limited, but it is in high demand, due to the ever-growing population, which is one of the biggest factors that affect these resources. a shortage of these resources mostly has the same impact on society and industries. ways and other alternatives of producing or using these resources are also introduced, but many implications come with it and this inconveniences people, as we want our things to be done quick and fast. thus, depleting resources is a worldwide issue, and we may have to find a way fast to manage the resources for the rapidly growing population.