Energy security is becoming increasingly important for countries in the Western world. Recent trends and global events have driven home the importance of securing supply. Ireland, for example, spends more than €6 billion each year on importing fuel. Pressures on energy security have driven up the prices of fossil fuel energy.
In 2010-2011 more than 40% of Europe’s gas imports came from Russia, 18% from Algeria and 20% from Norway. Both Russia and Algeria have presented security issues. The fact that many oil companies are state-owned has meant that energy supply has been politicised. This has forced European countries to invest in renewable technologies research.
An economic standpoint
By harnessing renewable energy, countries can localise their energy sources and become less reliant on international markets.
There are many economic benefits:
- Many of the new technologies that harness renewable energy are competitive with fossil fuels.
- Oil prices rise when there are threats of supply disruption.
- Geothermal energy is infinite and is not affected by weather or external market conditions.