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Carbon cycle definition


The biochemical cycle by which carbon moves from one sphere to another. It acts as a closed system made up of linked subsystems that have inputs, throughputs and outputs.


Energy security definition


The uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price, while meeting the sustainable environmental and economic needs


Define anthropogenic climate change


caused by human activities


What is a flux


Movements of Organic compounds through an ecosystem


What is sequestration


The natural storage of carbon by physical or biological processes


List the aspects of the carbon store in order of PgC Average

  1. Crustal/terrestrial geological (100,000,000)
  2. Deep Ocean (38,000)
  3. Terrestrial soil (1500)
  4. Surface Ocean (1000)
  5. Atmospheric (560)
  6. Terrestrial ecosystems (560)

Explain the geological store of carbon

  • Most of the earths carbon is geological,
    resulting from the formation of
    sedimentary rocks
  • Slow geological processes release
    Carbon into the atmosphere
  • Processes such as Mechanical,
    Chemical and Biological weathering

Decomposition: Plant and animal particles that result from decomposition after death and surface erosion store carbon

Transportation: Rivers carry particles to the Ocean, where they are deposited

Sedimentation: Over millennia these sediments accumulate

Metamorphosis: The layering and burial of sediment causes pressure to build, which eventually becomes so great sediments are changed into rock – shale becomes slate


Explain the deep oceanic carbon store


Most carbon is dissolved inorganic carbon stored at great depths, very slowly cycled


Explain the Terrestrial soil carbon store

  • From plant materials (biomass); micro-organisms break most organic matter down to
    co2 in a process that can take days in hot, humid climates to decades in colder
  • Micro-organisms and detritus feeders such as beetles feed on waste material from
    animals, and this becomes part of these micro-organisms

Explain the Oceanic surface store

  • Exchanges are rapid with the atmosphere through:

Physical Processes
- This is based on the oceanic circulation of water including
upwelling, downwelling and the thermohaline current
- The Colder the water, the more potential C02 can be absorbed
- Thus, warm tropical waters release C02 into the atmosphere,
whereas colder high - latitude oceans take in CO2 from the

Biological Processes

  • This is the organic sequestration of CO2 to oceans by
    Phytoplankton. These microscopic, usually single-celled, marine
    plants float near the ocean surface to access the sunlight to
  • Huge numbers make up half the planets biomass
  • Carbon is then passed up the food chain by consumer fish and
    zooplankton, which in turn release CO2 back into the water and

Explain the atmospheric carbon store

  • CO2 and CH4 store carbon as greenhouse gasses with a

lifetime of up to 100 years


Explain the Terrestrial ecosystems carbon store

  • CO2 is absorbed by the producers via photosynthesis
  • Carbon is stored organically
  • Animals consume plants and carbon compounds travel
    through the food chain,
    released via respiration. The animal dies and is eaten by
    decomposers which return the carbon to the atmosphere.

What is the importance of the Geological Carbon Cycle


 Geological Processes are an important control on the carbon
 Through a series of chemical reactions and tectonic activity
 The geological part of the carbon cycle interacts with the rock


Explain Chemical Weathering in terms of the Geological Carbon Cycle


 Chemical weathering: in the atmosphere, water reacts with
atmospheric CO2 and carbonic acid forms. Once this water
reaches the surface as rain, it reacts with some surface minerals,
slowly dissolving them into their component ions
 Transportation of calcium ions by rivers from the land into
oceans. These combine with bicarbonate ions to form calcium
carbonate and precipitate out as minerals such as calcite
 Deposition and burial turns the calcite sediment into limestone
 Subduction of the sea floor under continental margins by tectonic
 Some of this carbon rises back up to the surface within heated
magma, then is degassed as CO2 and returned to the


Explain volcanic outgassing in terms of the Geological Carbon cycle


 Pockets of CO2 exist in the Earth’s. Disturbance by volcanic eruptions or earthquake activity may allow pulses or more diffuse fluxes into the atmosphere

Outgassing occurs at:
 Active or passive volcanic zones associated with tectonic plate
boundaries, including subduction and spreading ridges
 Places with no current volcanic activity, such as the hot springs
and geysers
 Direct emissions from fractures in the Earth’s crust


Explain Thermohaline Circulation


 Thermohaline circulations are a vital component of the global
ocean nutrient and carbon cycles. The movement of seawater in
a pattern of flow dependent on variations in temperature, which
give rise to changes in salt content and hence in density.

 The main current begins in polar oceans where the water gets
very cold: sea forms; surrounding seawater gets saltier,
increases in density and sinks
 The current is recharged as it passes Antarctica by extra cold
salty, dense, water
 Division of the main current: northward into the Indian Ocean and
into western Pacific
 The two branches warm and rise as they travel northward, then
loop back southward and westward
 The now-warmed surface waters continue circulating around the
globe. On their eventual return to the North Atlantic they cool,
and the cycle begins again


Explain the three factors that determine the carbon capacity of soil

  • The capacity of soil to store carbon is determined by three factors: Climate, soil type and management/use of soils
  • Dictates plant growth and microbial and detritivore activity.
  • Rapid decomposition occurs at higher temperature or under
    waterlogged conditions.
  • Places with high rainfall have increased potential carbon storage
    than the same soil type in lower
                                            	Soil type
  • Clay-rich soils have a higher carbon content than sandy soils.
  • Clay protects carbon from decomposition.
                                Management and use of soils
  • Since 1850, soils globally have lost 40-90 billion tonnes of carbon
    through cultivation and disturbance.

What is the importance of the greenhouse effect, photosynthesis and soil health in regulating the carbon cycle

  • The natural greenhouse effect is vital in regulating earth’s
    temperature and precipitation, but anthropogenic climate
    change has altered the balance of carbon pathways and stores,
    having implications on climate, ecosystems and the hydrological
  • Ocean and terrestrial photosynthesis regulate the composition of
    gases in the atmosphere.
  • Soil health is influenced by stored carbon which is vital for
    ecosystem productivity.

Explain the greenhouse effect


The earth has a natural temperature control-system that relies on greenhouse gasses: its climate is driven by incoming shortwave radiation:

 31% is driven by clouds, aerosols and gases in the atmosphere
 Remaining 69% is absorbed – with almost 50% absorbed by the
Earth’s surface: especially by oceans
 70% of this surface absorption itself is re-radiated to space as
longwave radiation
 However, a large proportion of this longwave radiation emitted by the surface is re-radiated back to the surface by clouds and greenhouse gasses. This trapping of longwave radiation in the atmosphere is the natural greenhouse effect


Explain how fossil fuel consumption is interfering with the Carbon Cycle

  • Fossil fuels have been burnt at an increasing rate since the start
    of the industrial revolution
  • Naturally, carbon in fossil fuels would flux very slowly into the
    atmosphere through volcanic activity. Fossil fuel consumption
    shifts this flow from slow to fast carbon cycling.
  • Oil, natural gas, and coal furnish most of the energy used to
    produce electricity, run automobiles, heat houses, and power
  • If burnt completely, the only by-product containing carbon would
    be carbon dioxide
  • The extracting, processing and transporting of fossil fuels also
    leads to further carbon release. These releases can be
    deliberate, as when natural gas is flared from oil wells, emitting
    mostly carbon dioxide and methane. But they can also be from
    poor maintenance and small leaks.
  • Methane occurring naturally in coal seams as pockets of gas in
    the coal itself is released when coal is mined or pulverized.

Explain how deforestation is interfering with the Carbon Cycle

  • Second largest source of carbon dioxide
  • When forests are cleared for agriculture or development, most of
    the carbon in the burned or decomposing trees escapes to the
  • An important part of the terrestrial carbon cycle

Explain how domestic animals are interfering with the Carbon Cycle

  • The second-most important greenhouse gas after carbon
    dioxide, methane is produced by cattle dairy cows, buffalo, goats
  • 100 million tonnes a year

Explain how rice cultivation are interfering with the Carbon Cycle

  • Wetland or paddy ice farming produces one-fifth of all global
    methane emissions from human activities
  • Bacteria and other micro-organisms in the soil of the flooded rice
    paddy decompose organic matter and produce methane

What are the 4 human activities that are interfering with the carbon cycle

  • Fossil Fuel consumption
  • Deforestation
  • Domestic Animals
  • Rice cultivation

What is primary energy


Primary energy sources are the natural sources found in the earth, such as coal, oil and gas.


What is secondary energy


Secondary energy converts these sources into other forms, such as electricity for convenience


What is a rich energy mix made up of

  • A rich energy mix is made up of domestic and foreign sources; a
    country will have its own energy sources as well as importing
    from other nations; having a diverse mix of renewable and non-
    renewable sources

Explain what factors a country will depend on for access and consumption of energy recourses


 Physical Availability: Fossil fuels, solar, wind, tidal and geothermal power depend upon location. Large power stations require flat and stable land to function correctly.

 Cost: As supply decreases, costs increase. Prices are constantly fluctuating. Onshore oil deposits tend to be cheaper than offshore sights.

 Technology: New technological developments have allowed oil to be extracted from deeper and more technically difficult environments. E.g. tar sands in Venezuela and Canada

 Public Perception: There are cultural preferences around the world, some may be reluctant to adapt to new technology.

 Levels of economic development: France can afford 78% of its energy to come from nuclear sources whilst poorer regions, such as Ethiopia, use sources like dung and crops for energy

 Environmental priority: Costa Rica obtained 99% of its energy from renewable sources in 2015 as they are conscious of their environmental footprint


Describe the energy mix of North America

  • Oil (40%) - vast reserves in Gulf of Mexico/ Alaska/ Canada
  • gas (25%) - abundance
  • coal (25%) - abundance

Its economic growth is due to these fossil fuels, which are consumed by industries such as the pharmaceutical, chemical, domestic use and transport sector

  • North America has more nuclear reactors than any other country
    (103) – has huge uranium reserves

-Less than 10% comes from HEP - most stations located on the East
and West coasts where there is plenty of rainfall and fast-flowing


Describe the energy mix of South & Central America


Oil + Natural gas (65%) - vast reserves of both fuels in Venezuela and pipelines and oil tankers connect these supplies in the Middle East to the rest of the region

  • Greatest consumer of HEP due to heavy rainfall, fast-flowing rivers
    and large dams e.g. in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina
  • Consumption of coal and nuclear minimal – deficits in coal and
    uranium reserves

Describe the energy mix of Brazil

  • Energy mix dominated oil and HEP
  • Oil (48%)
  • HEP (35%)
  • Largest sugar cane producer in the world, predominately used in the
    production of ethanol fuel
  • Has the 6th largest Uranium reserves in the world – yet only has one
    nuclear reactor
  • Third largest Hydro-electric producer, HEP provides 80% of the
    country’s electricity supply
  • Co-owns the Itaipu HEP plant on the Parana River, located on the
    border between Brazil and Paraguay, which is the world’s second
    largest HEP plant

Describe energy mix of the Middle East

  • Consumed mainly fossil fuels – oil provides 50% of energy needs
    and gas 45% - huge reserves in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait
  • Small amount of coal

Describe the energy Europe and Eurasia

  • Europe and Eurasia’s consumption shared equally by oil and
    natural gas (65%) – reserves of natural gas in Russia, UK and
  • 20% - coal - supplied by nations such as Poland, UK, Kazakhstan
    coal is cheap and traditional – huge amounts of infrastructure
    available for the production of coal
  • 10% of energy used comes from Nuclear power as Western
    Europe can afford to import uranium - France, Kazakhstan and
    Uzbekistan have reserves of uranium.

Describe the energy mix of the United Kingdom

  • Coal traditionally been the most important source of electricity
  • However, its role has decreased as other sources of electricity
    generation have become more financially and technically viable
  • Nowadays, gas is the single most important source of energy
  • Nuclear accounted for about one-fifth of total electricity generation,
    but its contribution has declined as older nuclear power stations
    have been decommissioned
  • Nuclear, bioenergy, waste, and wind (13%)
  • Gas, oil and coal (87%)

o UK production of oil and gas in the North Sea has fallen rapidly
o Domestic coal production has continued its long-term decline
o Some nuclear power stations have closed, having reached the
end of their productive lives, with other due for closure in the
next decade


Describe the energy mix of France

  • Nuclear (79%) - 55,000 workers are employed - However, this may
    begin to decrease as there is increasing concern on health risks
  • HEP (14%)
  • Wind (0.5%) - small due to: local environmental objections – acoustic
    laws – high cost of installation

Describe the Asia Pacific energy mix

  • Consumes mainly fossil fuels
  • coal (50%)
  • Oil (30%)
  • gas (15%)
  • China and India have vast coal deposits – cheap for them to
    generate electricity using coal
  • There are gas pipelines throughout the region and oil is taken by
    tanker to areas of demand
  • Consumes little HEP and nuclear energy
  • Most nuclear energy use is found in South Korea and Japan,
    which are deficient in fossil fuels and can afford the cost of
    nuclear power stations

Describe the energy mix of China

  • Population of 1.3 billion
  • It has recently undergone massive economic growth, accompanied
    by an increased demand for power
    -China is the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world with
    large deposits in the north and about half in the Shanxi province –
    roughly 13% of global reserves
  • Coal (67%)
  • Oil (25%)
  • Nuclear (4%)
  • Renewables (1%) - however the government is increasing this to 15%
    by 2020
  • China has a large potential for HEP, due to its many rivers and
    mountain landscapes – has 12% of the global HEP recourses – Three
    Gorges Dam largest in the world
    -China has more than doubled its installed wind power capacity each
    year from 2005-2007, faster on a percentage basis than any other
    country, making it the eight largest wind-power producers in the

What is the energy mix for Africa

  • Mainly fossil fuels
  • Coal (30%) - large reserves in South Africa
  • oil (40%) - large reserves in Nigeria, Libya and Algeria
  • Makes fossil fuels very cheap
  • HEP is not viable due to low rainfall, and nuclear energy is costly
    and unnecessary in a region which has other recourses

What is a countries Energy Balance


The composition of its energy supply in terms of consumption of different forms of energy


Why is access to energy recourses not evenly distributed

  • Access to and consumption of energy recourses, both renewable
    and non-renewable, is not evenly distributed, and depends on
    physical factors, cost, technology and public perception. Some
    areas suffer from energy poverty, while others have a surplus

What Physical factors contribute to the uneven distribution of energy recourses

  • Fossil fuels are unevenly spread, dependent on where
    fossilisation occurred in the past.
  • HEP requires rain, so is not a possibility in the Sahel region of
    Africa unless on a very small scale.
  • Solar power requires sunshine, so it would not be much use in
    Northern Europe
  • Wind power requires high and constant speed wind, so is best on
    the coast and on mountains
  • Land space is needed for power stations

What economic factors contribute to the uneven distribution of energy recourses

  • Extraction of raw materials is costly due to capital and labour
  • Markets can be volatile, meaning that higher extraction costs
  • Greater demand fuels exploration so TNCs only prospect areas
    near high demand

What Political factors contribute to the uneven distribution of energy recourses

  • Voters worrying about the greenhouse gas emissions force
    governments to change energy mix to favour greener fuels,
    changing the proportional supply of the different recourses
  • The costs of research and development may be partially funded
    by governments if it is beneficial to political agendas
  • International agreement is required before hydro-electric power
    can be harnessed on transboundary rivers, influencing the supply
    of this recourse

How is the global demand for energy changing

  • Global demand for oil is set to expand - this growth is set to come
    from Asia, the Middle East and other non-EOCD countries
  • Of the MEDCs, the USA and Japan have increased consumption, but
    only by a small amount, whereas Germany and the UK have
    decreased their consumption due to more efficient use of their
  • NICs are increasing demand by the fastest rate. China and India
    have almost doubled their demand in 10 years due to rapid
    economic growth and a more affluent population moving into urban
    areas which have higher standards of living

-Developing countries have much lower consumption - in general
they have large populations living in rural areas and they have
difficulty paying for their energy needs.


What are energy pathways

  • Energy Pathways, which can be pipelines, transmission lines or
    shipping routes, are vital in transporting energy sources from
    producers to consumers – these pathways are high-risk areas, prone
    to piracy, theft, disruption and damage
  • Energy pathways are complex, exhibiting considerable levels of risk.
    They link producers and consumers through pipelines, shipping
    routes, electricity cables and tankers
  • There are more than 160,000 miles of oil pipeline on the USA alone

What is energy infrastructure

  • Energy infrastructure refers to the exploitation, development and
    production of energy, such as oil rigs, pipelines, tankers, power
    stations, mining operations and electricity grids

Russia-Europe gas pipeline (Energy insecurity case study 1)

  • One high-risk pathway is the pipeline connecting Europe to
  • In 2006, Russia increased the price of gas for Ukraine and then
    in 2009 completely stopped supplying gas - Claimed Ukraine
    failed to pay in time
  • This caused a two-week dispute and led to a 16% increase in gas
    prices for the UK as gas passes through Ukraine to reach the UK.
  • In 2007, Belarus cut of Russia’s oil pipeline because of the high
    prices Russia demanded
  • This affected Germany and Poland, the latter being 96%
    dependant on imports

How has the EU responding to the energy insecurities posed from Russia

  • Such disputes have again raised EU fears about its increasing
    reliance on energy supplies from Russia
  • Critics argue that Russia has a habit of manipulating gas and oil
    supplies for political purposes
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated the dispute illustrated that
    Europe’s energy sources needed to be more diverse – thus the
    EU is looking to build interconnecting pipelines and power lines,
    such as electricity hook ups between Germany, Poland, France
    and Spain

Trans-Alaskan pipeline (Energy insecurity case study 2)

  • It crosses an earthquake belt which could damage the pipe, and
    spills could go unnoticed
  • Valdez port has strong weather conditions, and the Beaufort Sea
    is frozen most of the year
  • High snowfall endangers buildings causing possible collapse or
    limiting access to pumping stations, and the extreme cold makes
    pumping very difficult

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (Energy insecurity case study 3)

  • Long crude oil pipeline from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli oil field to
    the Mediterranean Sea
  • Connects Baku to Ceyhan (via Tbilisi) the capital of Georgia. It is
    the second-longest oil pipeline in the former Soviet Union
  • Pipeline bypasses Armenia, which has unresolved conflict with
    Azerbaijan over the status of certain regions in the area
  • It also crosses through Georgia, which has two unresolved
    separatist conflicts
  • Goes through the edges of the Kurdish region of turkey, which
    has seen a prolonged and bitter conflict with Kurdish separatists

Oil sands in Alberta Canada (Unconventional Energy Alternative case study 1)

  • There are rich tar deposits within Canada which could reduce the
    nation’s dependency on imports whilst providing 33000 jobs
  • However, the extraction method for one barrel of tar sand oil is 3
    times more energy extensive than producing one barrel of
    conventional oil
  • There is also lots of water required; each barrel of water needs 4
    barrels of water which then becomes polluted and cannot be
  • Environmental impacts involve the removal if of Boreal Forest
    which is home to 45 unique species

What are Oil Sands


Known as tar sands or extra heavy oil. Naturally occurring mixture of sand or clary, water and an extremely dense and viscous form of petroleum


Fracking in the United Kingdom

Unconventional Energy Alternative case study 2

  • Currently, 50% of the UKs gas is imported, this will rise to 70% in
    the future
  • Fracking is a method used by the British Government to reduce
    this reliance on imports, especially since North Sea gas
    production is in decline
  • Estimations have suggested that Britain may have 26 trillion
    cubic feet of natural gas in its shale basins – this would fill
    domestic demand for decades
  • Jobs are created on both the fracking system and through
    energy production – this also guarantees the security of some
    employment already
  • However, there are issues related to the potential contamination
    from the released gas or the chemicals used in fracking – this
    cab increase the hazard for rivers and other water bodies
  • Fracking also acts as a catalyst for seismic events, which have
    become one of the most frequently quoted adverse effects.



Method of drilling employed when there are deep deposits of oil or gas underground. Occurs when there drilling occurs downwards and then horizontally. This allows oil and gas to be flowing from tight sands that we normally could not retrieve with conventional methods of drilling.


The Arctic Circle (Unconventional Energy Alternative case study 3)

  • The Arctic circle is a pristine environment thought to be home to
    huge oil-rich sea beds
  • Some estimates say up to 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil
    and gas may be located here
  • The USGS estimate that 1 billion-barrel fields would cost $US40
    per barrel to extract, in comparison to $US2 in Saudi Arabia
  • The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve is under threat from energy
    development, but so far, the environment lobby has managed to
    hold the line against intense lobbying from oil companies
  • Russia and China have already become claiming sections of the
    Arctic as it shrinks, and oil exploration becomes easier.

What are some alternatives to fossil fuels

  • Renewable and Recyclable energy, including nuclear (Uranium is
    reused), wind and solar power, could reduce reliance on fossil
    fuels but come with their own costs and benefits.
  • Ideally, a diverse mix of sources is needed for energy security

Nuclear Energy policy in UK (Renewable energy case study 1)

  • The United Kingdom was once a world leader in the
    development of nuclear power
  • The development of further nuclear power in the UK was
    disrupted by accidents at nuclear power stations at Three Mile
    Island in the USA (1979) and a much more serious event at
    Chernobyl in the Ukraine (1986)
  • A change in public perception of the nuclear power occurred
    during the first decade of the 21st century
  • In 2001 a consensus found that 67% of the UK public agreed that
    nuclear is needed as a part of the UK’s energy mix, with only 10%
    being opposed to nuclear power by 2009
  • In 2008, the government led on new policy on nuclear energy
  • Increasing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and global
    warming led to a re-evaluation of nuclear power as a low-carbon
    form of energy production (target to reduce carbon emissions by
    50% by 2050)
  • It became apparent that renewable energy recourses would not
    be able to fill the gap resulting from the closure of elderly power


  • One of the key reasons for the UKs slow uptake of nuclear
    energy has been issues surrounding the disposal of nuclear
  • In areas where there is a nuclear reactor – radioactive waste will
    need to be stored on- site before it can be safely removed

Chernobyl disaster


The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 when a fire broke out in the nuclear reactor plant. 46 people were killed within a few days and since hundreds have died of early deaths due to cancer after exposure to the intense radiation.


Evaluate Wind Energy

  • Costs 10% of what it did 20 years ago
  • Prices will decrease further as the technology improves over time
  • The USA is the world leader with 24.6% of production
  • Germany, Spain and China account for 40% of the world total

Evaluate Geothermal Energy

  • Geothermal energy has a global capacity of 18,5000MW, with the
    USA generating 29% of this with plants in Alaska, California,
    Hawaii, Nevada and Utah.

Advantages: cheap energy:
- Costs of production are much less than those based on fossil fuels
- 8.2 billion dollars saved by USA between 1970 and 2000 by
changing from oil-based systems to Geo-thermal
- Power stations last 30 years: clean on environment: self sufficient

- In some areas, small-scale use causes no real impact, but larger-
scale use can do so: also causes steam pollution.


Geothermal Energy in Iceland (Renewable energy case study 2)

  • Iceland is well known for its tectonic activity – it lies over a
    hotspot, the rising magma from this adds to the tectonic activity,
    and therefore to the geothermal potential
  • Iceland has a very high concentration of volcanoes, enabling 87%
    of Icelandic homes and public buildings to be heated with
    geothermal energy, and 26% of the country’s electricity to be
    generated the same way
  • This also supports nearly all economic activities – allows industry
    such as aluminium smelting, with no raw material recourse base
    in Iceland

Evaluate Solar Energy

  • Solar energy can be defined as the light and radiant heat from
    the sun – can be referred to as electricity generated from solar
  • Over $30 billion was invested in solar energy in 2007 – growth
    of 100 billion
  • This is location dependant, suitable for deserts
  • However, still makes up an extremely small proportion of the
    world’s electrical capacity – less than 1%
  • It is expensive but a long-term option

Solar Energy in California (Renewable energy case study 3)

  • In California, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company recently
    signed the world’s largest solar deal to date, with Bright Source
    Energy, to produce three new solar-thermal electric plants with a
    combined capacity of 500 MW.
  • First plant opened in 2011
  • The $2 to $3 billion-dollar deal provides options for additional
    plants (up to 900 MW total), which would be enough to power
    375,000 Californian homes.
  • The plants will be built in the Mojave Desert. Installed capacity of
    solar energy in the Mojave Desert already totals 364 MW, in the
    form of a system of nine power plants.
  • Located on three sites the plants vary in size from 14 to 80 MW.
  • Meets demand of half a million

Evaluate biofuel usage in Brazil

  • Biomass has recently come into prominence with commercial use
    of a number of relatively new biofuels
  • Biofuels is a fuel derived immediately from living matter, such as
    agricultural crops, forestry or fishery products
  • Primary biofuels include fuelwood, wood chips etc.
  • Secondary biofuels are derived from the processing of biomass
    and include liquid biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel
  • Although the direct emissions caused by the use of biofuels are up to 90 per cent lower than those of gasoline or
    diesel fuels, the indirect emissions associated with production and land clearing for sugarcane cropping vary greatly
    and can be significant.
  • For example, nitrogen fertiliser used in growing sugarcane accounts for up to 40 per cent of greenhouse gas
    emissions associated with ethanol production. By devoting attention to limiting such indirect emissions, the net
    benefits of shifting to biofuel could be significantly improved.

Carbon Capture Storage (Radical technology case study)

  • It is widely accepted that coal will never cease to be part of the
    global energy budget - it is an attractive energy source as it is
    abundant and cheap
  • CCS involves capturing the carbon dioxide released by burning
    fossil fuels and burying it deep underground
  • However, it is expensive because of the complex technology
  • No one can be sure the carbon dioxide will stay trapped
    underground and that it was not gradually leak to the surface
  • In Abu Dhabi, The CO2, a by-product of the iron making process,
    is transported via a 50 km pipeline to Abu Dhabi National Oil
    Company oil reserves for EOR. The total carbon capture capacity
    of the facility is 800,000 tonnes per year.
  • Alberta has committed $170 million in 2013/2014 – and a total of $1.3 billion over 15 years – to fund two large-scale CCS
    projects that will help reduce CO2 emissions from tar sands refining.

What are the major players in the global supply of energy

  • Energy TNCs
  • Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
  • Governments
  • State-Owned companies
  • Environmentalists

Explain the importance of energy TNCs in the global supply of energy

  • Energy TNCs hold much control over the global supply of energy
  • This is because they are the main extractors and producers of
    fuel, and can therefore control the price of fuel globally

Explain the importance of energy TNCs in the global supply of energy

  • Energy TNCs hold much control over the global supply of energy
  • This is because they are the main extractors and producers of
    fuel, and can therefore control the price of fuel globally

Shell (Energy TNC case study 2)

  • In 2014, planned new exploration into the Alaskan sea
  • Shell extracts natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels, in
  • They try and avoid tax to reduce costs by moving one of their
    drill ships into Artic Waters
  • Shell is responsible for the damage to the environment in the
    Niger delta following an oil spill of 14,000 tonnes, threatening 150
    species of fish

Explain the importance of OPEC the global supply of energy

  • OPEC is an intergovernmental organisation formed between Algeria,
    Angola, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the
    United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
  • The stated objective is to coordinate and unify the petroleum
    policies of member countries and ensure the stabilisation of oil
  • OPEC’s decisions have had a substantial influence on oil
    prices over the years.

e.g. 1973 Oil Embargo


1973 Oil Embargo

  • OPEC declared an oil embargo in response to the US’s and
    Western Europe’s support of Israel in the Yom Kippur war of 1973
  • Oil prices rose from $US3 per barrel to $US12 per barrel
  • Gas rationing affected countries and prices continued to rise
    even after the embargo was lifted
  • Inflation spiked, and unemployment rose
  • In response to high prices, industrial nations moved to reduce
    their dependence on oil, favouring coal, natural gas and nuclear

Explain the importance of governments in the global supply of energy

  • Governments have a large amount of control over the energy mix of
    a nation, as well as the renewable energy policy

Different governments have different approaches to these policies:

 The UK: the national energy mix is dominated by coal and gas, however renewables are increasing
 Germany: nuclear energy production has decreased due to a change in policy in 1990. By 2025, 40-45% of electricity will be renewable
 China: energy mix dominated by coal. 16 new HEP dams were approved in 2006 + Three Gorges Dam – largest in the world


Explain the importance of state owned governments in the global supply of energy

  • A number of state-owned companies have been formed by
    recourse nationalisation, which eliminates private business
  • It also confiscates smaller scale oil production operations and
    private property, generally for the purpose of obtaining more
    revenue from oil for a government

Gazprom (State-Owned oil company case study)

  • Gazprom is a Russian state-owned company
  • Owns the largest gas transmission network, the Unified Gas
    Supply System of Russia
  • Exploits gas reserves at the Yamal Peninsula, Arctic shelf, and the
    Far East
  • Gazprom exports gas to over 30 countries

Explain the importance of Environmentalists in the global supply of energy

  • Environmentalists have a smaller role in energy supply
  • They look to reduce carbon emissions, stop exploitation and
    further exploration for fossil fuels and develop renewable
    recourses as a ‘greener’ energy supply
  • Although there would be many challenges, the WWF claims that
    by 2050 we could get all the energy we need from renewable
  • There have been many campaigns from environmentalists to
    raise awareness for control of energy supply

 1974: the EPA was accused of being responsible for the USA’s energy crisis by holding the USA back from making hasty decisions that might damage the environment
 2014: Russia has been working with and finding environmentalists that oppose fracking. Russia is sensitive to the new gas supply as completion as they are the main suppliers of gas to Europe


What three future energy security concerns exist

  • Economic growth and demand
  • Peak Oil
  • How far the life of fossil fuels can be extended

What uncertainties exist over economic growth and demand

  • There is uncertainty over global energy supply in terms of both
    reserves and energy demand.
  • Demand is strongly affected by economic growth rates
  • The price of oil per barrel was $US 147 in the summer of 2008 –
    but dropped to $40 by December as the economic recession
    caused a significant decline in the demand for energy

What uncertainties exist over Peak Oil supply

  • Peak oil production is the year at which the world reaches its
    highest level of production, with production declining thereafter
  • No one really knows when peak oil will be reached – the USGS
    predicts it to be 50 years away
  • Strong determined by the development of new technology to
    extract deep oil and unconventional oil

What uncertainties exist over Extending the life of fossil fuels

  • Coal gasification, clean coal technology and use of
    unconventional natural gas recourses
  • Coal gasification converts solid coal into gas that can be used for
    power generation– expensive
  • Clean coal technologies are improvements to power plant
    processes that both increase efficiency and reduce the
    emissions of greenhouse gases
  • Unconventional natural gas is more difficult to access and,
    therefore, more expensive to extract - includes deep gas, tight
    gas, gas-containing shells etc.

North Sea Oil Spills

  • December 2007, 22000 barrels of oil spilled into the sea when oil was being loaded onto a tanker off the Norwegian coast

North Sea Co2 emissions from gas flaring

  • Gas is always produced along with oil
  • Some of this gas has to be disposed of
  • The CO2 emissions from gas flaring across all offshore oil production were about 5.5 million tonnes in 2000

Harnessing geothermal energy - Kenya


The park, about 50 miles from the capital Nairobi, sits over the East African Rift, a huge fracture in the earth’s crust that also cuts through Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and other countries.

Steam from here helped generate 47 per cent of Kenya’s electricity in 2015, with hydropower (nearly 35 per cent) generating much of the rest.

That explosive growth has made geothermal power a promising source of renewable energy for a country of 44 million people that is expected to nearly double in population by 2050.


How much biofuel is the EU expecting to use by 2020


By 2020, the EU aims to have 10% of the transport fuel of every EU country come from renewable sources such as biofuels.


Wind energy china


China is the world leader in wind power generation, with the largest installed capacity of any nation[1] and continued rapid growth in new wind facilities.[2] With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind power resources:

The largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer in China is Goldwind from Xinjiang province. Established in 1998, Goldwind aggressively developed new technology and expanded its market share, though this then decreased from 35% in 2006 to 19% in 2012.