Energy security: Are we doing the right things?

Dr BK Mukhopadhyay
Let us start our discussion on a positive note: the Australian renewable energy industry will install more than 10 giga watts of new solar and wind power during 2018 and 2019.
If that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50 percent renewable in 2025. The Australian energy industry has now demonstrated the capacity to deliver 100 percent renewable electricity by the early 2030s, provided  the current rate of installations continues beyond the end of this decade.
It has been assessed that Australia’s renewable energy industry has the capacity to deliver deep and rapid emissions reductions.
Government support for stronger high-voltage interstate interconnectors and large-scale storage projects (like the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro proposal) will allow 50-100 percent renewable to be smoothly integrated into the Australian grid.  Of course government policy certainty will enable the renewable industry to realise its potential to deliver deep emissions cuts.
Security For Everyone Everyday
Energy security is the reliable, stable and sustainable supply of energy at affordable prices and social cost. It has been the fact that for many years governments have struggled to provide energy security through a mix of policies that have tempered demand and increased supply, but there is growing evidence that these policies are falling far short of the effort needed.
What is more: energy exporters and importers are interdependent and increasingly anxious about the reliability of energy supplies.
Additionally, a number of interlinked issues and challenges have appeared in recent years.
Energy security essentially refers thus to uninterrupted availability of energy for the economy at all times at prices that are broadly in line with what the rest of the world pays.
To counter adverse situations, some developed as well as developing economies resort to storing large quantities of fuels – oil and gas – in order to tide over the likely duration of any supply disruption. The question remains: is it the solution. Temporarily these practitioners may counter the problem, but in the long run?
Again, energy security is crucially important because it is a necessary condition for state sovereignty, without which the independence of statehood is void of its meaning. 
It is also a necessary precondition (necessary, but not an entirely sufficient condition) for sustainable economic growth, the inflow of foreign direct investment, economic stability and international competitiveness, which are conditions sine qua non for the welfare of its citizens.
On this score we have to take a comprehensive view. Global energy security depends on so many factors – flow of investment and expertise, innovation, prosperity and high per capita energy availability, among other. One has to diversify energy supplies, find more traditional fuels, and at the same time develop alternatives.
Needless to say that without involving all of the countries lasting solution would remain far from being achievable.
Essentially, energy efficiency is a strategic issue in the development process and countries like India have necessarily to strive for building an energy efficient society. If we look at the global picture we could definitely locate that no country is energy – independent.
Even Saudi Arabia – the world’s largest oil exporter –imports refined petroleum products like gasoline. Gasoline is imported by UAF. Norway and also Nigeria, whereas natural gas is still imported by Russia and UAF and electricity and coal by Russia and Norway, Thus, the regions with abundant raw resources also rely on import of some form of energy.
Good Going??
The fact remains that the vast majority of countries rely on a few energy-producing nations rich in hydrocarbon sources. Therefore, energy independence remains an unrealistic goal.
Balancing the needs of the producers and consumers is thus as crucial as increasing the supply and curbing the demand. Remember, oil demand is projected to grow up to 115 million barrels per day (MBPD) by 2030 against 82 MBPD in 2004!
There remains a functional market for fuels globally and as such any country is free to purchase its requirement at the price that the market determines from time to time. At the same time, uncertainties prevail. War, political turmoil, natural disasters, accidents and such other events block the supply line and affect the availability at affordable prices.
That is why a comprehensive policy duly covering all of the vital areas such as nuclear energy tapping, minimization of transmission loss, and emphasis on renewable energy sources, can help us inch forward towards self – reliance in energy.
Close technical cooperation with the neighboring economies emerges to be the crucial thing, which, in turn, will benefit all of the parties concerned.
Establishing The Required Link
Full-fledged cooperation among the major energy consuming nations in the matter of development and exploiting energy resources, especially in energy conservation, improvement of energy efficiency, development of alternative energy resources as well as environmental protection concerning energy utilization and finally contribution towards maintaining the stability and security of international energy supply.
For that matter, no doubt, efforts must be made to promote the use of solar, wind and tidal energy, biomass and other renewable energy sources, especially keeping in mind the fact that the demand for petroleum products in the country has been growing at a rate of around 3 per annum. There are obviously multiple elements to address the issue of securing energies. Minimizing the size of strategic reserves – diversifying the geography of supply sources and the modes of fuel transport- are the other alternatives.
Finally, the interdependencies between water and energy offer many positive synergies that can help achieve both energy and water security. Acclaimed author Steven Solomon argues that a paradigm shift in resource planning and management must be devised that treats water and energy as inseparable, complementary components of a linked continuum, where policy choices in one realm alter options and outcomes in the other.
Yes, the crucial need remains to minimise risk, reduce exposure; to imagine what a secure energy framework of the future looks like and the energy policy that is more responsive to the social, economic and environmental demands of modern society.
Last but not the least it is an established fact that ensuring energy security and mitigating climate change are key energy policy priorities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group III report clearly emphasized that climate policies can deliver energy security as a co-benefit, in large part through reducing energy imports.
So, the entire world has to work on implementing the crucial tasks, learning and unlearning from the experiences gained till now.
The full range of policies, processes, laws, bureaucracies and international institutions and agreements need to reflect the energy security realities and needs of today’s global energy systems and for enhancing energy infrastructure resiliency the need is there to develop tools, metrics and data to assess the resiliency, reliability, safety and security of energy infrastructures
The Writer, a Noted Management Economist and international Commentator on business and economic affairs, can be contacted at [email protected]