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Energy Security

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Energy Security

A country achieves energy security when uninterrupted and affordable energy is available on a national level. Energy security is vital for every country, as we use energy to power transport and domestic appliances, to warm and cool homes, for the manufacturing industry, in lighting settlements, for communications, and for commercial agriculture.

The most secure energy situation for a country would be to rely only on domestic sources to cover the national demand, as the more a country relies on importing energy, the more it's at risk of facing economic and geopolitical problems. The concept of energy security goes hand-in-hand with energy dependency. This is the measure to calculate the proportion of energy consumption that is dependent on imported energy.

Strategies for energy security

The four aspects that are important to energy security are availability, accessibility, affordability, and reliability. These feed into the strategies to try to achieve energy security. Here are examples of those strategies:

Using the country's own resources to try to secure self-sufficiency

Norway is 96% self-reliant when it comes to energy. This means that it can meet most of the energy demands of its population by exploiting its offshore oil and gas fields and using hydroelectric power. It even has surplus energy, which it exports to other countries such as the UK through an undersea gas pipeline.

Energy Security, Norway renewable energy, StudySmarterFig. 1 - The share of electricity production from renewables shows that Norway has used renewables heavily since 1985

Having reliable and consistent energy supplier nations to supplement the country's own energy sources

USA and Canada have the largest integrated energy network in the world. Both co-supply each other with electricity in different regions. Canada is the net exporter of oil and gas to the USA whilst being the net importer of coal from the USA.

Importing energy from a wide range of suppliers

This is to stop being too dependent on one resource and to be able to switch to an alternative resource if there are any political, pricing, or supply factors. Japan has more than five countries that supply it with liquid natural gas, for example.

Switching supplies to be less dependent on imports

The USA has drastically reduced oil and gas imports from the Middle East and South America by exploiting its own deep onshore shale gas through a process of hydraulic fracturing.

Reducing the domestic demand for energy

Some ways to reduce the need to rely on other countries for energy are granting subsidies for solar panels in houses and businesses, encouraging cycling instead of driving, or insulating houses in a more efficient manner.

Energy security, energy security selfsufficiency, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Having energy security is essential if a country is to be self-sufficient

Energy security and the carbon cycle

With the reliance on fossil fuels to create energy, energy security is heavily intertwined with the carbon cycle, which we will discuss in the article about the carbon cycle. The reality is that the carbon cycle balance supports planetary health, which has been affected by the demand for resources, that grows with economic development and the rising population numbers. The demand for more resources conducts to the release of more carbon, which leads to greenhouse gases, and creates a climate crisis. Some countries are developing ways to access alternative fuels and radical technologies that can help us find alternative energies to stop the reliance on fossil fuels.

Energy Security in Geography - Key takeaways

  • Energy security is achieved when uninterrupted and affordable energy is available on a national level.
  • Energy dependency is the measure to calculate the proportion of energy consumption that is dependent on imported energy.
  • There are four aspects that are important to energy security: availability, accessibility, affordability, and reliability.
  • There are many strategies to help with energy security, such as switching supplies to have less dependence on imports, reducing the domestic demand for energy, importing energy from a wide range of suppliers, having reliable and consistent energy supplier nations to supplement the country's energy sources, and using the country's own resources to try to secure self-sufficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions about Energy Security

Energy security in geography is when uninterrupted and affordable energy is available on a national level.

Some of the methods to improve energy security are using one's own resources to try to secure self-sufficiency, having reliable and consistent energy suppliers, and importing energy from a wide range of suppliers.

It is important to a nation as it is needed to power transport, domestic appliances, warm and cool homes, many forms of manufacturing, light settlements, communication means, and commercial agriculture.

Norway is 96% self-reliant on energy by exploiting its offshore oil and gas fields and using hydroelectric power. It even has surplus energy, which it exports to other countries, such as the UK through an undersea gas pipeline. They have reached energy security.

Final Energy Security Quiz

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What is energy security?

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A country has energy security when uninterrupted and affordable energy is available on a national level.

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Why is energy security important?


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It is vital to a country as it is needed to power transport and domestic appliances, to warm and cool homes, for many forms of manufacturing, light settlements, communications, and commercial agriculture.

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Why is energy dependency an important factor to think about when it comes to energy security?


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Because the more a country relies on importing energy thus being energy-dependent, the more it's at risk of economic and geopolitical difficulties.

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What are the four important aspects of energy security?


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Availability, accessibility, affordability, and reliability.

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What is Norway's strategy regarding energy security? 


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Norway is 96% self-reliant when it comes to energy as it uses its own resources to try to secure self-sufficiency. It has achieved this by exploiting its offshore oil and gas fields and using hydroelectric power. It even has surplus energy which it exports to other countries, such as the UK through an undersea gas pipeline.

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Give an example of two countries that have a reliable and consistent energy supplier nation as a strategy for energy security. How do they work together?


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USA and Canada have the largest integrated energy network in the world. Both co-supply each other with electricity in different regions. Canada is the net exporter of oil and gas to the USA whilst being the net importer of coal from the USA.

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What is Japan's strategy for energy security?


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Japan has more than five countries that supply it with liquid natural gas. This prevents it from being too dependent on one resource and makes it able to switch to an alternative resource if there are any political, price, or supply problems.

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How has the USA improved its energy security?


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The USA has drastically reduced oil and gas imports from the Middle East and South America by exploiting its own deep onshore shale gas through a process of hydraulic fracturing. They have switched their supplies to depend less on imports.

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How can nations reduce domestic demands for energy?


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Through subsidies for solar panels in houses and businesses, encouraging cycling instead of driving, and insulating houses in a more efficient manner.

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What causes energy security?


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A constant and reliable source of energy is vital for energy security.

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What is the carbon cycle, and why is it important?

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The carbon cycle is the movement of carbon between the different reservoirs on the earth. It is important for planetary health as the balance of the carbon cycle can affect the climate.

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Which conference in 2015 was the first to legally bind a global climate deal?


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In 2015, the first legally binding global climate deal was adopted by 195 countries in the Paris Climate Conference (COP21).

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Explain what the fast carbon cycle and the slow carbon cycle are.


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The slow cycle takes between 100 million years and 200 million years for carbon to move between the rocks, soil, ocean and atmosphere. The fast carbon cycle is the flow of carbon through life forms.

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Give an example of movement in a fast carbon cycle.


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Examples of movement in a fast carbon cycle can be seen in terrestrial or marine ecosystems. In terrestrial ecosystems, the movement of carbon is through the living organisms into the atmosphere from respiration with carbon dioxide and methane released from the decomposition of plants and animals. Also, when the animal and plant matter decay, the carbon stored gets converted into another carbon store by going into the soil. In marine ecosystems, carbon is stored in the ocean as dissolved CO2 in the water and also in carbon compounds in marine organisms. The input to the ocean store is through absorption via gas exchange with the atmosphere. Carbon can leave the atmosphere mixing with water vapour. When precipitation happens this falls as carbonic acid, commonly known as acid rain.

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What part does chemical weathering of rocks play in the slow carbon cycle?


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Chemical weathering is the wearing away of rock by chemical reactions, causing material to dissolve through solution, hydrolysis and oxidation. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reacts with the moisture to form weak carbonic acid, which then falls as acidic rain. When acidic rain hits carbon-rich rocks (e.g. limestone), it can dissolve material and form calcium carbonate. These dissolved materials are transported down rivers and deposited into the sea, forming into sedimentary rock.

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What process can be seen releasing carbon in the form of gas from rocks?


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Volcanic out-gassing.

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Why are carbon stores important?


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Carbon stores are important to maintain the balance of carbon within the carbon cycle which can influence the climate of the Earth.

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How are carbon stores measured?


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Gigaton of carbon (GtC) is used as a measure.

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How is carbon stored in the atmosphere?


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Carbon is stored in the atmosphere as gasses such as carbon dioxide.

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What are the six major carbon reservoirs? Give examples of each.


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(1) as organic molecules in living and dead organisms found in the biosphere; (2) as the gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; (3) as organic matter in soils; (4) in the lithosphere as fossil fuels and sedimentary rock deposits such as limestone, dolomite and chalk; (5) in the oceans as dissolved atmospheric carbon dioxide and as calcium carbonate shells in marine organisms; and (6) as frozen ground in arctic regions containing plant material.

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Which sphere holds the largest store of carbon?


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The lithosphere contains 99.9% of all of the Earth’s carbon.

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Which sphere holds the smallest store of carbon?


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Terrestrial plants.

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Give an example of a carbon store that is affected by human activity and how.


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(1) Fossil fuel deposit is depleting due to being exploited by humans for power and energy. (2) Soil organic matter is affected through deforestation, agriculture and land use. (3) Atmosphere is affected through the combustion of fossil fuels creating CO2 levels to rise. (4)Terrestrial plants are affected by deforestation and climate change.

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Where does the carbon in limestone come from?

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Limestone forms from marine organisms that have carbon-based shells made from calcium carbonate.

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How does crude oil form?


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The formation of crude oil begins with the settling of fine-grained sediments and biologically degraded materials. There needs to be at least 2% organic carbon. A series of anaerobic reactions happen that turns most organic carbon into a liquid, crude oil.

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What does biological carbon sequestration mean?

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Biological carbon sequestration is the storage of carbon dioxide in soils, the ocean, and vegetation (such as grasslands or forests).

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What is terrestrial sequestering?


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On land, carbon is sequestered by plants through photosynthesis and is then returned to the atmosphere through the respiration of consumers.

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What are terrestrial primary producers?


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Terrestrial primary producers are land plants that are the first organisms in the food chain.

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Explain the role of consumers in terrestrial sequestering.


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Consumers are organisms that eat the other organisms below them in the food chain. Primary consumers are the first organisms to eat plants. They return the carbon (that the primary producer sequestered) to the atmosphere through the process of respiration.

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What do decomposers do in terrestrial sequestering?


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Decomposers consume dead organic matter and return the carbon to the atmosphere through respiration.

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What is the carbon pump?


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The whole process of carbon entering and moving around the ocean is referred to as the carbon pump. Phytoplankton sequester atmospheric carbon during photosynthesis in ocean waters. This carbon transforms into terrestrial carbon or biological carbon before returning to the atmosphere.

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How do phytoplankton sequester carbon dioxide?


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Phytoplankton sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis.

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How does carbon in the atmosphere transform into biological carbon?


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Phytoplankton sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. As this happens, they build their shells from calcium carbonate. The carbon in the atmosphere is transformed into biological carbon.

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What carbon sink exists at the bottom of the ocean?


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The carbonate shell sink exists at the bottom of the ocean. It is created by dead aquatic organisms when they sink and accumulate as sediment. This then turns into sedimentary rock.

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What is thermohaline circulation?


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Thermohaline circulation is the global movement of water.

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What does thermohaline circulation have to do with sequestering carbon?


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The flow of water is determined by thermohaline circulation and therefore affects oceanic sequestering.

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How does thermohaline circulation affect the UK?


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Because warm Caribbean water passes the UK as it moves northward towards the poles, the UK is relatively warmer compared to other locations at the same latitude.

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Which landscape found at tropical coastlines sequester 1.5 metric tonnes of carbon per hectare every year?


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Mangroves found at tropical coastlines sequester 1.5 metric tonnes of carbon per hectare every year.

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What is found in mangrove forests that contain the most carbon?


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Soils found in mangrove forests consist of layers of litter, humus and peat, which contain over 10% carbon.

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Which region of the world has a massive carbon store due to low temperature? 


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Tundra regions of the world have permanently low temperatures, so there is ancient carbon permanently frozen in the soil because there is no microbe activity to decay the material. Tundra is therefore a massive carbon store, holding carbon for hundreds of thousands of years.

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What is the greenhouse effect?

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Solar radiation enters the earth's atmosphere and passes through the greenhouse gases layer. The Earth’s surface absorbs the solar radiation, and some is reflected. Some reflected radiation passes back into space. The greenhouse gas layer acts like a blanket and warms the earth to be a high enough temperature to support life on Earth.

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How does human activity affect the greenhouse effect?


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Human activity, such as burning fossil fuels through vehicles, has caused an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases create a thicker blanket causing more of the reflected radiation to be retained by the Earth's atmosphere than usual, leading to a rise in temperature.

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What does the concentration of atmospheric carbon strongly influence?


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The concentration of atmospheric carbon strongly influences the natural greenhouse effect, which in turn determines the distribution of temperature and precipitation.

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How are greenhouse gasses emitted naturally?


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Gases such as methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are naturally emitted through respiration and out-gassing.

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How does the greenhouse effect impact the Earth?


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The greenhouse effect impacts temperature/heat distribution and precipitation on the Earth.

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What is the movement of air called when the heating of the Earth's surface leads to warm air rising, cooling and condensing to create clouds?


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This movement of air is called atmospheric circulation.

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What other movement helps with the redistribution of thermal energy?


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Ocean circulation redistributes thermal energy across the surface of the Earth.

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How does precipitation distribution change across the Earth as the Earth's surface is heated?


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The heating of the Earth's surface leads to warm air rising, cooling and condensing to create clouds. The intense radiation on the equator leads to warm air rising causing high levels of rainfall all year. At 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south the air cools and sinks again resulting in high surface pressure where rainfall is rare. At 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south different air masses meet, resulting in frontal rainfall. The poles are cold resulting in air sinking, causing little rainfall.

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What is the albedo effect?


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The albedo effect is the reflectivity of the surface of the Earth and how much it absorbs the sun's radiation.

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What helps maintain the composition of the atmosphere?


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Photosynthesis help balance the composition of the atmosphere.

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