Geography - Sustainable Energy

  • Created by: ZodiacRat
  • Created on: 11-06-15 21:35

KQ 1: Issues Associated with Energy Supply - Envir

Deepwater Horizon Disaster - April 2010 explosion, 2 days later rig sank, released 62,000 barrels a day off Gulf of Mexico. 160km of coastline affected, oyster beds and shrimp farms. Cost BP $20 billion. Dispersants used to break up oil slick. 

Exxon Valdez disaster - 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker carrying 1.2 million barrels of crude oil from Alaska, USA. Piloted illegally from Alaska oil pipeline, 1/4 of a million barrels leaked over the 10 hours it to to place oil containment booms and oil-removing equipment arrived. Oil spread over 25,000km squared , 35,000 dead seabirds, 10,000 otters, 16 whales, 147 bald eagles and fish spawning grounds destroyed. Clean-up cost over $2 billion, fined $5 billion in damages in 1993, used to compensate 34,000 fishermen. 

Over 100 million tonnes of oil transported per day, and spills can also occur inland. 

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KQ 1: Issues Associated with Energy Supply - Polit


  • Based in Moscow.
  • Controls 1/3 of the world's gas reserves.
  • Accounts for 92% of gas reserves.
  • Provides 25% of the EU's natural gas.
  • Over 80% of gas exports to Western Europe across the Ukraine (transit state).
  • Sole gas supplier to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithunia, Macedonia, Moldova, Slovakia.
  • World's 3rd largest corporation.
  • Government own 50.002% of shares.
  • Retains power over many countries as a result - stopped gas supplies by 50% in Ukraine and 40% in Poland. 
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KQ 1: Issues Associated with Energy Supply - Econo

Oil prices:

  • In 2007, the IEA predicted 'supply crunch' by 2012, forecasters from French and German governments say 2020.
  • Some large areas inaccessible (Antarctica).
  • Demand difficult o predict (e.g. China 30 years ago).
  • Difficult to see patterns as oil prices are extremely sensitive to political events. 
  • Companies/governments may distort figures and new reserves can be exploited as technology changes. 

Energy poverty: 

  • Unequal distribution of energy, 1/4 of population with no electricity, 80% in rural reas.
  • 2.4 billion people rely on biomass, 2.5 million women and children/year die from lung conditions caused by smoke from traditional cooking stoves.
  • Limits women's ability to engage in aucation and income-generating activities. 
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KQ 1: Issues Associated with Energy Supply - Econo


  • Ministers aim to end fuel poverty in England among households which include the elderly, disabled or children this year by 2016.
  • Defined as spending over 10% of househol income on energy bills. 
  • 2.8 million households fit this definition - extra 2.4 million by 2016 with fuel price increases.
  • Warm Front scheme - helps vulnerable households.
  • Scheme has carried out 25,000 heating/insulation jobs over the past winter to reduce fuel bills.


  • Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries - intergovernmental organisation, formed in 1960.
  • Ensures fair and stable prices for producers, efficient supply and fair return on capital for those investing in the industry. OPEC (Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela) came together in 1960 to demand higher prices (cartel) as a result of MNCs lowering and raising prices as they pleased in Arab oil fields. 
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KQ 2: How and why is demand for energy changing?

Economic development of countries is raising demand for energy.

Increasingly globalised economy with growing tourism and trade air travel.

Social factor include rising global population.

An increase in consumerism, especially in labour saving devices (i.e. washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners) now standard in most MEDC homes. 

Car ownership has become a social aspiration throughout the world, e.g. in China 1.4 billion have discovered the freedom of car trips.

Cities like LA are designed to the low density and sprawling so cars become a necessity to access jobs and services.

MEDCs have seen an increase in leisure time with paid holidays and labour saving devices together with rapid advances in technology, and a boom in electronic gadgets. 

China's economy has doubled in size every eight years since the 1980s - increase in businesses. 

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KQ 3: How can demand for energy be managed sustain

  • The Green Deal launched in England, Wales and Scotland by government - homeowners first visited by assessors, designed to save carbon emissons by insulating th UK's aged housing stock. Consumers will be given loans to get upgrades of odouble-glazing, insulation or new heating systems from approved Green Deal installers such as DIY chains. 
  • Such loans will be paid back through electricity bills for periods of up to25 years, however, no guarantee that the eventual savings made by consumers will match the cost of the loans they take out to make improvements. Must repay loans at a maximum rate of almost 7%.
  • Road tax increase: In 2010/11, 9.4 million motorists had to pay more road tax under reforms aimed at punishing'gas-guzzling' and polluting vehicles. The government made more than £1 billion in additional revenue from the scheme between 2008 and 2011, Friends of the Earth said that increasing VED on old olluting cars will encourage people to choose greener vehicles, cut fuel bills and lower CO2 emissions. The money raised ican invest money raised on better public transport. 
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP) - can beu p to 95% efficient whereas electircity power stations waste 65% of the heat they generate. Often use fosil fuels but cuts emissions and reduces fuel dependency due to efficiency, can use different fuels in the same boiler including biomass and gas, iol and coal. e.g. Woking has developed a network of 60 local generators, developing local energy generators and making homes more efficient - reduced missions by 82% and consumption by 52%.
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KQ 3: How can demand for energy be managed sustain

Nuclear energy: 

Advantages: cheap, reliable, abundantsource of electricity - plentiful supply of uranium, so enough for it to be considered a renewable form of energy. Uranium fuel is available from countries such as the USA, Candada, South Africa, Australia - Westenr Europe would no have to rely on potentially unstable reions such as the Middle Eat. EU estimates that 40% of the EU's energy will be provided by nuclear power. 

Disadvantages: Radioactive material, hazards of waste disposal and the problems of decommissioning old plants and reactors. Rising environmental fears concerning the safety of nuclear power and nuclear testing based on experience such as Chernobly, 1986. 

Geo-thermal energy:

Advantages: Doesn't produce any pollution/GHGs, only emit a few trace gases. Power stations don't take up much area, less environmental impact. No fuel is needed, electricity in fairly constantly avaiblable compared to other renewable sources (wind/solar), after construction of geothermal power station energy is almost free.

Disadvantages: Requires a certain type of hot rock at a reasonable depth and rock above must be easy to drill through. Geothermal sites can 'run out of steam', possibly for decades, and hazardous gases and minerals may come up from the ground and can be difficult to safely dispose of. 

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KQ 3: How can demand for energy be managed sustain

Shale gas fracking: 
Advantages: Shale gas can have lower emissions than imported liquefied gas if methane is managed during production, energy prices could fall by a quarter if shale gas is used.
Disadvantages: Huge volumes of water required, water may become contaminated with toxic substances/naturally occurring radioactive elements. Chemicals that are injected may cause harm and contaminate aquifers. Some wells will become depleted of gas quite quickly, and some abandoned mines could still release small amounts of gas so sites can't be built on. GHGs along with methan and other gaseous pollutants are released, fracking could cause seismic activity such as in Blackpool experiencng a small eqathquake. 

Swansea Tidal Lagoon:
Advantages: Visitor centre attracting an estimated 70 to 100,000 per year, 60 new permanent jobs, 3,000 temporary jobs, long-term 60-120 year life for power plants, cost will eventually be significantly cheaper than offshore wind, minimal impact on sand//sediment movement, will save 216,000 tonnes of CO2 every year. 
Disadvantages: Construction and installation of the lagoon will produce about 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, noise/vibration disturbance, changes in habitat and changes in water quality, some disruption to local fisherman and loss of some fishing grounds, during operation the lagoon would not be accessible to any fishing vessels, construction will last up to 30 months.

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