The Age of Energy Disruptions

| December 15, 2021 | Leave a Comment

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Media Type: Article - Recent

Date of Publication: December 10, 2021

Author(s): François-Xavier Chevallerau, BiophysEco

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Announcing the release of an important analysis of the current global energy disruption:

Few have attempted to explain the global energy shock but in the linked paper, Francois-Xavier Chevallerau  does it brilliantly. While some of the components of the paper are familiar, the synthesis and clarity are unique and represent the importance of coherent narratives of our vulnerable interdependent bio-physical and social systems.

Abstract:  In recent months the world has been thrown into a global energy crisis that has taken most observers and global leaders by surprise. Suddenly, gas and electricity prices went through the roof in Europe, China and then India experienced widespread coal shortages and large-scale power blackouts, and fuel prices rapidly spiked across the world. This sudden “energy shock”, as The Economist titled, is bringing back memories of the 1970s. Yet what we are facing today is unlikely to be a repeat of what happened 50 years ago. The world is a very different place now than what it was back then, the causes of our energy crisis are different as well, and so are likely to be its consequences. The competing narratives that currently dominate the conversation about our energy situation however largely fail to account for these causes and consequences. Unable to grasp all the dimensions and the complexity of the crisis, they are blind to the reality of our energy past, present and future. We have entered the age of global energy disruptions, and the “energy transition” that we are inevitably headed for is unlikely to be the one we expect.


In recent months the world has been thrown into a global energy crisis that seems to have taken observers as well as global leaders by surprise. In September and October, wholesale prices of natural gas and electricity brutally surged in Europe, several energy providers went bust in the UK, China and then India experienced widespread coal shortages and large-scale power blackouts, and fuel prices rapidly spiked across the world. All these developments seemed to be only loosely correlated at first, but the simultaneity of their occurrence suggests that they might in fact be the various facets of something unfolding all at once across the world. Suddenly we are in the middle of a global energy crisis, or even facing a worldwide “energy shock”, as The Economist recently titled…

According to a monthly index of energy costs including oil, natural gas, coal, and propane published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the global energy price shock of October 2021 was in fact the worst since 2008, when the price of oil shot up to almost US$ 150 right before the onset of the ‘Great Financial Crisis’ (GFC). Back then the oil price however quickly collapsed in the following months as the world was sucked in a downward financial spiral. Today there are signs that energy prices may be headed higher for longer, and more than the 2008 spike our situation is therefore bringing back memories of what remains “the” energy crisis par excellence in living memory, that of the 1970s.

However, what we are facing today is unlikely to be just a repeat of what happened 50 years ago. The world is a very different place now than what it was back then. The causes of our energy crisis are different as well, and so are likely to be its consequences.

Not the 1970s all over again

Read the complete article here. 

 

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