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Energy crisis and the future of energy

Energy use is a basic fact of modern day life. People all over the world use energy for just about every task they do in a day. From heating homes during cold snaps or keeping the lights on, having a constant supply of reliable electricity is essential for most. So it becomes a major problem when that energy becomes increasingly expensive and inaccessible to many people, particularly those most vulnerable in society. This has been seen across Europe in recent months leading to a drastic increase in the cost of living across the continent. This unprecedented rise in costs has been tough for most, with household bills increasing, lowering the disposable income of many middle income families. However for some this energy price hike could be fatal. For the poorest in society this price hike may mean choosing between heating their home and feeding their family. So what has caused this unfortunate situation and what are the potential implications on the future of energy?

Gas cut off risks

Well the short answer is… Well many reasons, different geopolitical events causing issues in many ways. The main and most recent factor is likely the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This unjust invasion was suitably met by the imposition of strong trade sanctions against Russia from many countries all over the world. Russia is a major worldwide supplier of oil, sourcing the vast amounts from siberian oil fields and exporting it to the rest of the world. Sanctions against Russia have led to the amount of oil exported from Russia to drop significantly.

A huge share of Russian oil exports traveled down various large pipes such as Nord Stream 1 to European countries, making up a large portion of European oil imports. With the recent tensions escalating, Russia has closed many of its largest pipes for maintenance, with some suspecting that the pipes will remain closed indefinitely, cutting off Europe from a major source of energy. This has left Europe scrambling to fortify its energy reserves, with the EU passing new laws that require natural gas storage (another fuel for electricity generation) be at 80% capacity before winter.

The resulting reduced electricity supply from European Power plants has led to a shortfall in supply when compared to demand, causing energy prices to increase. This has led to the EU taking drastic measures to replace electrical capacity such as temporarily reopening and re-commissioning disused coal fired electrical plants. This is obviously not a good step for the environment given the number of pollutants produced by coal plants but has been deemed a necessary evil by European leaders.

Many are concerned that if left unchecked energy prices could get much, much worse as we go into winter. Historically energy usage increases significantly in the winter as people increase the heating of their homes to respond to lower temperatures. With recent winter temperatures and weather being more unpredictable and harsh many are concerned that people will not be able to heat their homes sufficiently potentially causing a threat to health.