What are the causes of the Energy Crisis?
The energy crisis is affecting all parts of the world, including developed and developing countries. It doesn’t take much to see that our energy needs over the past few decades have skyrocketed, and we are reliant on an ageing fossil-fuel driven energy grid.
Our consumption, coupled with diminishing resources, and their effect on the health of the environment are the main causes of the world energy crisis. But we are also facing challenges of overconsumption and energy waste.
The energy crisis is a quite complex issue and made up of multiple causes. Broadly speaking it can be broken up into 10 causes – the first four of which are the major contributors.
The energy crisis is a result of many different strains on our natural resources, not just one. There is a strain on fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal due to overconsumption – which then, in turn, can put a strain on our water and oxygen resources by causing pollution.
Our current consumption model relies mostly on consumable and finite resources like coal, oil, and natural gas and these are becoming closer to being exhausted. According to current projections, we only have enough oil reserves for about 40-60 years, about 60 years’ worth of conventional oil and about 2 centuries worth of coal reserves.
Another cause of the crisis has been a steady increase in the world’s population and its demands for energy.
Energy demands are, and will be, amplified by the demographic and economic boom of growing areas. It’s been speculated that the world’s population should reach nearly 10 billion people in 2050. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand could increase by more than 50% by 2030 in the absence of public policies in this area.
And what we put into context less often is not only our increased demand for energy/electricity but our increased demand for food and day-to-day products. Even ethically sourced, organic food, made from natural resources, etc.) all come with an element of impact and drain on energy resources (through production, transportation, energy to power the factory etc.)
3. Energy waste
The importance of conserving energy is quite often underestimated. It is often limited to books, the internet, newspaper ads, and lip service. Energy waste describes the wastage of energy sources, in particular fuels and electricity. Consequently, the reduction of waste is a colossal source of energy savings, which requires actions both on an individual and collective level.
4. Unexplored or underutilised renewable energy options
Renewable energy still remains unused or underutilised in most countries. While Australia has a high level of renewable sources to access (lots of sun, roof space, etc.) currently only 21% of the total electricity generated comes from Renewable sources. Most of the energy comes from non-renewable sources like coal. This means there is quite a lot of room for improvement in this area.
Unless we focus seriously on renewable energy, the problem of the world energy crisis cannot be solved. Renewable energy sources can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Poor infrastructure
Ageing infrastructure of power generating equipment is another reason for the global energy crisis, and in particular of the Australian energy crisis. We are operating on a very old electricity system. Most energy networks are using outdated equipment that restricts the efficient and effective production of energy.
It is the responsibility of utilities to keep on upgrading the infrastructure and set a high standard of performance. Though upgrading costs a lot of money and uses a significant amount of additional resources. These resources, while they are polluting and causing a significant increase in Co2 emissions, are also becoming increasingly close to exhaustion.
6. Delay in commissioning of power plants
There is a significant delay in the commissioning of new power plants that can fill the gap between demand and supply of energy. The result is that the system comes under huge stress to meet the daily demand for power. When supply doesn’t match demand, it results in load-shedding and or even a system blackout.
7. Poor distribution system
Frequent tripping, power outages, line breakdowns or faults and disruptions to supply are a result of a poor distribution system. When these interruptions to supply are experienced and supply becomes more expensive.
8. Major accidents and natural disasters
Major accidents like a major line fault or break, and natural disasters like drought, flood, cyclones, eruption of volcanoes, and earthquakes cause interruptions to energy supplies.
Wars between countries can also hamper the supply of energy, especially if it happens in Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, or Qatar – major suppliers or oil. This causes increase in prices of oil and global shortages which in turn have a ripple effect causing problems for energy consumers.
10. Miscellaneous factors
Tax hikes, strikes, political events, severe hot summers or cold winters can cause a sudden increase in demand for energy and can choke supply.