Energy security, energy corridors and the geopolitical context: a conceptual approach
And what about the envir on ment? The Euro pean Commission’s definition of energy secur ity adds the envir on mental concern to the phys ical and the price com pon ents. However, there are many reasons to accept that energy secur ity and the protection of the envir on ment are pol icy ob ject ives that are not perfectly compatible. For instance, shifting from oil and gas to coal would signi fic antly increase emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), while the effect on energy secur ity would depend on the geographic origin of those fuels. A coun try with ample resources of coal would reduce its energy dependence using them instead of imported hydrocarbons, and additionally coal prices are less volatile than oil prices. In this case, energy secur ity improves with an increase in the emission of pollutants. Although a more detailed ana lysis will be carried out in Chapter 15, fostering renew able energy sources to reduce carbon emissions may seem to solve this trade off, but they present ambiguous effects on energy secur ity. On the one hand, the larger the share of RES – and of nuclear power, for that mat ter – in the total pri mary energy supply the more secure energy supply will be because it means that do mestic energy production would be bigger, and hydrocarbon demand – usually the source of energy dependence – would be lower. But on the other hand, energy vul ner abil ity grows to some extent with the share of some RES in total energy supply (photovoltaic, wind and hydropower, for instance) because there are un avoid able production discontinuities directly related to an inherent un cer tainty in electricity generation due to weather con ditions, as well as the technical in abil ity to store electricity. Besides, energy dependency grows
with the share of imported electricity gen er ated from RES over total do mestic power consumption, and so does energy insecurity. Therefore, it does not seem appropriate to include the envir on mental com pon ent in an opera tional definition of energy secur ity due to the pres ence of a certain trade-off between both ob ject ives. A higher care for the envir on ment could very well result in lower energy secur ity and the gov ern ment should choose the com bination that is more to the liking of the voters. So, our opera tional definition of energy secur ity is focused on its phys ical com pon ent, reflecting the lack of actual or expected interruptions of energy supply, whether temporary or permanent, partial or total. Kilian (2008) wrote one of the few papers that ex plores the macro economic impact of changes in the phys ical supply of oil. He found that a 10 per cent drop in oil supplies would mean real eco nomic growth shrinking by close to 2 per cent between one and two years after the shock. However, supply interruptions not only entail eco nomic and social costs, which may pose a direct threat to the viabil ity of a coun try’s eco nomic model, but also threaten its secur ity both at home and abroad. Recent conflicts offer countless examples of the stra tegic im port ance of energy supplies (Yergin, 2006).