Rival Visions of Transatlantic Energy Security
The policy debate on energy security in Europe and the United States is preoccupied with the priority of securing supplies of foreign oil and gas and reducing dependence on their imports. This has led to a geostrategic “great game” as rival powers attempt to assert control over finite supplies. But recent technological developments offer new ways to improve energy security. The effectively unlimited resources of renewable energy — solar, wind, water, and biomass in North Africa, south Asia, and other strategically important areas — could provide alternative sources of energy to reduce competition for natural gas and coal (and oil, if this were accompanied by electrification of transport). Massive transport of electrons, rather than hydrocarbon molecules, across 21st-century supergrids could achieve the same energy security objectives with a host of other possible gains as a bonus, from economic development in sensitive regions of the world to reduced risk of climate change and increased competitiveness of renewable energy. Improved energy management in urban areas, industrial facilities as well as in the existing generation, distribution, and transportation of electricity have the potential to contribute to a sustainable energy system.