Energy Security in Germany2009IntroductionEnergy security is increasingly becoming a serious concern for all countries and governments as demand for energy is growing at a rate faster than the supply of energy generated from fossil and non-fossil fuel. Energy demand comprises that for electricity for industrial, residential and commercial use, vehicle fuel and also feedstock for a number of industries like metals and so on. On the other hand, energy is produced through fossils like coal and lignite, oil and natural gas, uranium and thorium or renewable sources like wind, solar, water and biogas.
Although efforts are being made to produce power from renewable sources, bulk of the energy consumed in the world is from finite sources like coal, oil and natural gas. Since these resources are unlimited, countries need to take effort to conserve them so that energy security is maintained not only at present but also in the future. Besides, the environment is affected adversely not only by polluting industries but also by excessive energy and water use by households, offices and other establishments and hotels. Largely because of human intervention into the natural systems, global warming is raising the temperature levels across the world, resulting in floods, droughts and devastating hurricanes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2001) forecasts that carbon dioxide concentration may increase from 380 ppm now to 540-970 ppm in 2010 because of human development and changes in the ecosystem resulting from shifts in land and energy use patterns, industrialization and other livelihood factors. The higher concentration of carbon dioxide in turn would result in raising the average global temperature by 1.4 – 5.8oC and the sea level by 9-88cm by 2010 depending on the intensity of the various factors (Stern Review, 2006).
Hence, energy use needs to be limited to protect the environment as well as for securing the supplies for the future. In this paper, I will study the energy demand and supply situation in Germany to understand whether the country is secure in energy at present and in the future. In the process, I will survey Germany’s energy mix and see whether it is sustainable and economically feasible in the long run.
I will also discuss the politics over the phasing out of nuclear reactors in Germany by 2023 as committed. Energy in Germany (Present)Germany has one of the largest economies in the world, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.8 trillion in 2005. Hence, it is also one of the largest consumers of energy, having consumed 549.1billion kwh of electricity in 2006, making it the fifth largest energy consumer in the world (CIA). However, the country does not have significant hydrocarbon resources like oil and gas and so has to import most of its requirement.
Since the 1960s, Germany has invested heavily in nuclear power generation. But, lately environmentalists have protested on the dangers of nuclear energy and Germany has shifted its energy strategy towards renewable energy sources like wind power. It has some coal resources but coal mining has also been stopped to conserve the environment (Eoearth).