Energy and Security: Exploring Renewable and Efficient Energy Systems

University dissertation from Lund University

Abstract: Mitigating climate change will affect energy systems and have consequences that reach beyond environmental policies. The studies presented in this thesis analyse how reducing emissions of greenhouse gases affect (energy) security. The focus is on strategies which improve energy efficiency or increase the share of renewable energy.
This thesis is based on five papers in which frameworks for conceptualising and analysing energy security are described and used. Two different aspects of energy security have been studied: i) security in energy systems and ii) how energy systems are related to conflicts that can threaten security.
It was found that increasing the share of renewable energy can affect threats to which the energy system is exposed, its sensitivity to disturbances, and its capacity to adapt to change. Both improvement and deterioration may result, which makes it difficult to compare the general level of security. Changes are sometimes minor because of dependencies between renewable and fossil supply chains that enable disturbances to spread. This restricts the possibility to hedge disturbances by the increased use of renewable energy. The effects on security can depend on how external factors develop and the preferences of various actors. It is suggested that energy security can be approached as a subjective concept and that (external) scenarios can be used to test the performance of different strategies. This enables the identification of strategies that are robust or adaptive to external factors, and desirable for different actors. It also strengthens the methodological integration between the fields of energy security, future studies and security studies in general.
Concerning conflicts, it was found that renewable energy has a low likelihood of triggering geopolitical conflicts as a result of abundance and low energy density. Renewable energy systems can be exploited in conflicts, for example, by withholding supplies, in the same way as fossil energy. Some bio-energy resources can trigger local conflicts due to the increased use of land and water which, for example, undermine food security.
Improving energy efficiency has many benefits with regards to security. It reduces the exposure and sensitivity to price increases and reduces competition for resources. It also enables a higher share of the demand to be met by domestic renewable resources. This increases the adaptive capacity of the energy system.