An energy crisis is any significant bottleneck in the supply of energy resources to an economy. In literature, it often refers to one of the energy sources used at a certain time and place, in particular those that supply national electricity grids or those used as fuel in vehicles.
Industrial development and population growth have led to a surge in the global demand for energy in recent years. In the 2000s, this new demand — together with Middle East tension, the falling value of the U.S. dollar, dwindling oil reserves, concerns over peak oil, and oil price speculation — triggered the 2000s energy crisis, which saw the price of oil reach an all-time high of $147.30 a barrel in 2008.
Most energy crisis have been caused by localized shortages, wars and market manipulation. Some have argued that government actions like tax hikes, nationalisation of energy companies, and regulation of the energy sector, shift supply and demand of energy away from its economic equilibrium. However, the recent historical energy crisis listed below were not caused by such factors. Market failure is possible when monopoly manipulation of markets occurs. A crisis can develop due to industrial actions like union organized strikes and government embargoes. The cause may be over-consumption, aging infrastructure, choke point disruption or bottlenecks at oil refineries and port facilities that restrict fuel supply. An emergency may emerge during very cold winters due to increased consumption of energy.
Large fluctuations and manipulations in future derivatives can have a substantial impact on price. Large investment banks control 80% of oil derivatives as of May 2012, compared to 30% only a decade ago. This increase contributed to an improvement of global energy output from 117 687 TWh in 2000 to 143 851TWh in 2008. Limitations on free trade for derivatives could reverse this trend of growth in energy production. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussein stated that "Under the supply and demand theory, oil prices today are not justified," in an interview with Upstream.
Pipeline failures and other accidents may cause minor interruptions to energy supplies. A crisis could possibly emerge after infrastructure damage from severe weather. Attacks by terrorists or militia on important infrastructure are a possible problem for energy consumers, with a successful strike on a Middle East facility potentially causing global shortages. Political events, for example, when governments change due to regime change, monarchy collapse, military occupation, and coup may disrupt oil and gas production and create shortages. Fuel shortage can also be due to the excess and useless use of the fuels.
“Peak oil” is the period when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. It relates to a long-term decline in the available supply of petroleum. This, combined with increasing demand, significantly increases the worldwide prices of petroleum derived products. Most significant is the availability and price of liquid fuel for transportation.
The US Department of Energy in the Hirsch report indicates that “The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past 'energy crisis' experience will provide relatively little guidance.”
To avoid the serious social and economic implications a global decline in oil production could entail, the 2005 Hirsch report emphasized the need to find alternatives, at least ten to twenty years before the peak, and to phase out the use of petroleum over that time. Such mitigation could include energy conservation, fuel substitution, and the use of unconventional oil. Because mitigation can reduce the use of traditional petroleum sources, it can also affect the timing of peak oil and the shape of the Hubbert curve.
Energy policy may be reformed leading to greater energy intensity, for example in Iran with the 2007 Gas Rationing Plan in Iran, Canada and the National Energy Program and in the USA with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 also called the Clean Energy Act of 2007. Another mitigation measure is the setup of a cache of secure fuel reserves like the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in case of national emergency. Chinese energy policy includes specific targets within their 5-year plans.
Andrew McKillop has been a proponent of a contract and converge model or capping scheme, to mitigate both emissions of greenhouse gases and a peak oil crisis. The imposition of a carbon tax would have mitigating effects on an oil crisis. The Oil Depletion Protocol has been developed by Richard Heinberg to implement a powerdown during a peak oil crisis. While many sustainable development and energy policy organisations have advocated reforms to energy development from the 1970s, some cater to a specific crisis in energy supply including Energy-Quest and the International Association for Energy Economics. The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre and the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas examine the timing and likely effects of peak oil.
Ecologist William Rees believes that
Due to a lack of political viability on the issue, government mandated fuel prices hikes are unlikely and the unresolved dilemma of fossil fuel dependence is becoming a wicked problem. A global soft energy path seems improbable, due to the rebound effect. Conclusions that the world is heading towards an unprecedented large and potentially devastating global energy crisis due to a decline in the availability of cheap oil lead to calls for a decreasing dependency on fossil fuel.
Other ideas concentrate on design and development of improved, energy-efficient urban infrastructure in developing nations. Government funding for alternative energy is more likely to increase during an energy crisis, so too are incentives for oil exploration. For example, funding for research into inertial confinement fusion technology increased during the 1970s.
Kirk Sorensen and others have suggested that additional nuclear power plants, particularly liquid fluoride thorium reactors have the energy density to mitigate global warming and replace the energy from peak oil, peak coal and peak gas. The reactors produce electricity and heat so much of the transportation infrastructure should move over to electric vehicles. However, the high process heat of the molten salt reactors could be used to make liquid fuels from any carbon source.
Rather counterintuitively, the world economy has had to deal with the unforeseen consequences of the 2015-2016 oil glut also known as 2010s oil glut, a major energy crisis that took many experts by surprise. This oversupply crisis started with a considerable time-lag, more than six years after the beginning of the Great Recession: "the price of oil [had] stabilized at a relatively high level (around $100 a barrel) unlike all previous recessionary cycles since 1980 (start of First Persian Gulf War). But nothing guarantee[d] such price levels in perpetuity".
The macroeconomic implications of a supply shock-induced energy crisis are large, because energy is the resource used to exploit all other resources. When energy markets fail, an energy shortage develops. Electricity consumers may experience intentionally engineered rolling blackouts during periods of insufficient supply or unexpected power outages, regardless of the cause.
Industrialized nations are dependent on oil, and efforts to restrict the supply of oil would have an adverse effect on the economies of oil producers. For the consumer, the price of natural gas, gasoline (petrol) and diesel for cars and other vehicles rises. An early response from stakeholders is the call for reports, investigations and commissions into the price of fuels. There are also movements towards the development of more sustainable urban infrastructure.
Other responses include the development of unconventional oil sources such as synthetic fuel from places like the Athabasca Oil Sands, more renewable energy commercialization and use of alternative propulsion. There may be a Relocation trend towards local foods and possibly microgeneration, solar thermal collectors and other green energy sources.
Tourism trends and gas-guzzler ownership varies with fuel costs. Energy shortages can influence public opinion on subjects from nuclear power plants to electric blankets. Building construction techniques—improved insulation, reflective roofs, thermally efficient windows, etc.—change to reduce heating costs.
If an energy shortage is prolonged a crisis management phase is enforced by authorities. Energy audits may be conducted to monitor usage. Various curfews with the intention of increasing energy conservation may be initiated to reduce consumption. For example, to conserve power during the Central Asia energy crisis, authorities in Tajikistan ordered bars and cafes to operate by candlelight."Crisis Looms as Bitter Cold, Blackouts Hit Tajikistan". NPR. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
In the worst kind of energy crisis energy rationing and fuel rationing may be incurred. Panic buying may beset outlets as awareness of shortages spread. Facilities close down to save on heating oil; and factories cut production and lay off workers. The risk of stagflation increases.
The 1970s energy crisis was a period when the major industrial countries of the world, particularly the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, faced substantial petroleum shortages, real and perceived, as well as elevated prices. The two worst crises of this period were the 1973 oil crisis and the 1979 energy crisis, when the Yom Kippur War and the Iranian Revolution triggered interruptions in Middle Eastern oil exports.The crisis began to unfold as petroleum production in the United States and some other parts of the world peaked in the late 1960s and early 1970s. World oil production per capita began a long-term decline after 1979.The major industrial centers of the world were forced to contend with escalating issues related to petroleum supply. Western countries relied on the resources of potentially unfriendly countries in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
The crisis led to stagnant economic growth in many countries as oil prices surged. Although there were genuine concerns with supply, part of the run-up in prices resulted from the perception of a crisis. The combination of stagnant growth and price inflation during this era led to the coinage of the term stagflation.By the 1980s, both the recessions of the 1970s and adjustments in local economies to become more efficient in petroleum usage, controlled demand sufficiently for petroleum prices worldwide to return to more sustainable levels.
The period was not uniformly negative for all economies. Petroleum-rich countries in the Middle East benefited from increased prices and the slowing production in other areas of the world. Some other countries, such as Norway, Mexico, and Venezuela, benefited as well. In the United States, Texas and Alaska, as well as some other oil-producing areas, experienced major economic booms due to soaring oil prices even as most of the rest of the nation struggled with the stagnant economy. Many of these economic gains, however, came to a halt as prices stabilized and dropped in the 1980s.1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis began in October 1973 when the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries proclaimed an oil embargo. The embargo was targeted at nations perceived as supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur War. The initial nations targeted were Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States with the embargo also later extended to Portugal, Rhodesia and South Africa.
By the end of the embargo in March 1974, the price of oil had risen from US$3 per barrel to nearly $12 globally; US prices were significantly higher. The embargo caused an oil crisis, or "shock", with many short- and long-term effects on global politics and the global economy. It was later called the "first oil shock", followed by the 1979 oil crisis, termed the "second oil shock."1974 United States elections
The 1974 United States elections were held on November 5, and elected the members of the 94th United States Congress. The elections occurred 3 months into Republican President Gerald Ford's term. Ford had become president on August 9, 1974, upon the resignation of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, in the wake of the Watergate scandal. He granted Nixon a pardon on September 8. In addition, an energy crisis hit the country at this time, resulting in soaring inflation. These circumstances, along with the tendency for the president's party to struggle in mid-term elections, hurt the Republicans, and they lost seats in both houses of Congress. Many of the newly elected Democrats were liberal northerners (known as Watergate Babies), and the influx of liberals moved power away from the conservative southern Democrats who held most committee chairs in both houses.1979 oil crisis
The 1979 (or second) oil crisis or oil shock occurred in the world due to decreased oil output in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. Despite the fact that global oil supply decreased by only ~4%, widespread panic resulted, driving the price far higher. The price of crude oil more than doubled to $39.50 per barrel over the next 12 months, and long lines once again appeared at gas stations, as they had in the 1973 oil crisis.In 1980, following the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War, oil production in Iran nearly stopped, and Iraq's oil production was severely cut as well. Economic recessions were triggered in the United States and other countries. Oil prices did not subside to pre-crisis levels until the mid-1980s.
After 1980, oil prices began a 20-year decline, except for a brief rebound during the Gulf War, eventually reaching a 60 percent fall-off during the 1990s. As with the 1973 crisis, global politics and power balance were impacted. Oil exporters such as Mexico, Nigeria, and Venezuela expanded production; the Soviet Union became the top world producer; North Sea and Alaskan oil flooded the market. It seemed that the United States of America and Norway had much more oil reserves than forecasted in the 1970s. OPEC lost influence.1980s oil glut
The 1980s oil glut was a serious surplus of crude oil caused by falling demand following the 1970s energy crisis. The world price of oil had peaked in 1980 at over US$35 per barrel (equivalent to $106 per barrel in 2008 dollars, when adjusted for inflation); it fell in 1986 from $27 to below $10 ($62 to $23 in 2008 dollars). The glut began in the early 1980s as a result of slowed economic activity in industrial countries due to the crises of the 1970s, especially in 1973 and 1979, and the energy conservation spurred by high fuel prices. The inflation-adjusted real 2004 dollar value of oil fell from an average of $78.2 in 1981 to an average of $26.8 per barrel in 1986.In June 1981, The New York Times proclaimed that an "oil glut" had arrived and Time Magazine stated that "the world temporarily floats in a glut of oil". However, The New York Times warned the next week that the word "glut" was misleading, and that temporary surpluses had brought down prices somewhat, but prices were still well above pre-energy crisis levels. This sentiment was echoed in November 1981, when the CEO of Exxon Corp also characterized the glut as a temporary surplus, and that the word "glut" was an example of "our American penchant for exaggerated language". He wrote that the main cause of the glut was declining consumption. In the United States, Europe, and Japan, oil consumption had fallen 13% from 1979 to 1981, "in part, in reaction to the very large increases in oil prices by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil exporters", continuing a trend begun during the 1973 price increases.After 1980, reduced demand and increased production produced a glut on the world market. The result was a six-year decline in the price of oil, which reduced the price by half in 1986 alone.1990 oil price shock
The 1990 oil price shock occurred in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein's second invasion of a fellow OPEC member. Lasting only nine months, the price spike was less extreme and of shorter duration than the previous oil crises of 1973–1974 and 1979–1980, but the spike still contributed to the recession of the early 1990s. Average monthly price of oil rose from $17 per barrel in July to $36 per barrel in October. As the U.S.-led coalition experienced military success against Iraqi forces, concerns about long-term supply shortages eased and prices began to fall.2000s energy crisis
From the mid-1980s to September 2003, the inflation-adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil on NYMEX was generally under US$25/barrel. During 2003, the price rose above $30, reached $60 by 11 August 2005, and peaked at $147.30 in July 2008. Commentators attributed these price increases to many factors, including Middle East tension, soaring demand from China, the falling value of the U.S. dollar, reports showing a decline in petroleum reserves, worries over peak oil, and financial speculation.For a time, geopolitical events and natural disasters had strong short-term effects on oil prices, such as North Korean missile tests, the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, worries over Iranian nuclear plans in 2006, Hurricane Katrina, and various other factors. By 2008, such pressures appeared to have an insignificant impact on oil prices given the onset of the global recession. The recession caused demand for energy to shrink in late 2008, with oil prices collapsing from the July 2008 high of $147 to a December 2008 low of $32. However, it has been disputed that the laws of supply and demand of oil could have been responsible for an almost 80% drop in the oil price within a 6 month period. Oil prices stabilized by August 2009 and generally remained in a broad trading range between $70 and $120 through November 2014, before returning to 2003 pre-crisis levels by early 2016.2004 Argentine energy crisis
The Argentine energy crisis was a natural gas supply shortage experienced by Argentina in 2004. After the recession triggered by the economic crisis and ending in 2002, Argentina's energy demands grew quickly as industry recovered, but extraction and transportation of natural gas, a cheap and relatively abundant fossil fuel, did not match the surge.
According to estimates, 50% of the electricity generated in Argentina depends on gas-powered plants. The national energy matrix has no emergency reserves and by 2004 it was functioning at the top of its capacity. At this point, barely emerging from the seasonal low demand caused by summer, a large number of industrial facilities and power plants started suffering intermittent cuts in their supply of natural gas. Between February and May the cuts amounted to an average of 9.5 million m³ a day, about 13% of industrial demand, and by the end of May they grew to a maximum of 22 million m³. The most seriously affected regions were the capital, certain regions of the province of Buenos Aires, and the province of La Pampa.
As winter approached, the Argentine government announced that it would restrict natural gas exports in order to preserve the supply for internal consumption, both domestic and industrial, in compliance with the Hydrocarbons Law. These export cuts would seriously harm Chile and affect Uruguay and Brazil.
The Chilean Minister of Economy and Energy, Jorge Rodríguez, warned Argentina that supply contracts with Chilean companies must be fulfilled. This caused a mild diplomatic crisis. Chile imports more than 90% of its natural gas from Argentina and depends heavily on it to generate electricity; it has shifted the focus from coal and oil towards gas, and had five gas pipelines built for the specific purpose of getting gas from Argentina.2008 Central Asia energy crisis
The 2008 Central Asia energy crisis was an energy shortage in Central Asia, which, combined with the severe weather of the 2007-08 winter (the coldest since 1969) and high prices for food and fuel, caused considerable hardship for many. The abnormally cold weather has pushed demand up for electricity, exacerbating the crisis. The situation was most dire in Tajikistan. An international appeal was made by the United Nations, NGOs, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent for around US$25 million to assist the government. At the time, The UN warned that millions face starvation during the 2008-09 winter.2016 Tasmanian energy crisis
The 2016 Tasmanian energy crisis was an ongoing energy storage situation in the state of Tasmania, Australia in 2016. Two years of high volumes of energy exported to Victoria via the Basslink HVDC cable, followed by low rainfall, and a fault which rendered the cable inoperable, resulted in record low storage levels in Tasmania's hydro-electric system. This resulted in a number of contingency plans to be enacted by Hydro Tasmania and the Hodgman Government.California electricity crisis
The California electricity crisis, also known as the Western U.S. Energy Crisis of 2000 and 2001, was a situation in which the U.S. state of California had a shortage of electricity supply caused by market manipulations, and capped retail electricity prices. The state suffered from multiple large-scale blackouts, one of the state's largest energy companies collapsed, and the economic fall-out greatly harmed Governor Gray Davis' standing.
Drought, delays in approval of new power plants, and market manipulation decreased supply. This caused an 800% increase in wholesale prices from April 2000 to December 2000. In addition, rolling blackouts adversely affected many businesses dependent upon a reliable supply of electricity, and inconvenienced a large number of retail consumers.
California had an installed generating capacity of 45 GW. At the time of the blackouts, demand was 28 GW. A demand supply gap was created by energy companies, mainly Enron, to create an artificial shortage. Energy traders took power plants offline for maintenance in days of peak demand to increase the price. Traders were thus able to sell power at premium prices, sometimes up to a factor of 20 times its normal value. Because the state government had a cap on retail electricity charges, this market manipulation squeezed the industry's revenue margins, causing the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and near bankruptcy of Southern California Edison in early 2001.The financial crisis was possible because of partial deregulation legislation instituted in 1996 by the California Legislature (AB 1890) and Governor Pete Wilson. Enron took advantage of this deregulation and was involved in economic withholding and inflated price bidding in California's spot markets.The crisis cost between US$40 to $45 billion.Escape from Suburbia
Escape from Suburbia: Beyond the American Dream is a 2007 Canadian documentary film written and directed by Gregory Greene, as a sequel to Greene's film The End of Suburbia, and set to address what is termed "the upcoming energy crisis". Through interviews with individuals, Gregory Greene outlines potential solutions to the coming energy crisis.Gordon Dam
The Gordon Dam, also known as the Gordon River Dam, is a major gated double curvature concrete arch dam with a controlled spillway across the Gordon River, located in South West Tasmania, Australia. The impounded reservoir is called Lake Gordon.
The dam was constructed in 1974 by the Hydro Electric Corporation (TAS) for the purpose of generating hydro-electric power via the conventional Gordon Power Station located below the dam wall.Gordon Power Station
The Gordon Power Station is the largest conventional hydroelectric power station in Tasmania, Australia; located in the South West region of the state. The power station is situated on Gordon River. Water from Lake Gordon descends 183 metres (600 ft) underground past the Gordon Dam and into the power station.Lake Gordon
Lake Gordon is a man-made reservoir created by the Gordon Dam, located on the upper reaches of the Gordon River in the south-west region of Tasmania, Australia.Meadowbank Power Station
The Meadowbank Power Station is a run-of-the-river hydroelectric power station located in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, Australia. The power station is situated on the Lower River Derwent catchment and is owned and operated by Hydro Tasmania.Poatina Power Station
The Poatina Power Station is a conventional hydroelectric power station located in the Central Highlands region of Tasmania, Australia. The power station is situated on the Great Lake and South Esk and is owned and operated by Hydro Tasmania.Universe of Energy
The Universe of Energy was a pavilion located in the eastern half of Future World at Epcot. The pavilion contained one attraction, Ellen's Energy Adventure, starring Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye, which was the second version of the show since the pavilion's 1982 opening. The attraction featured a combination of four separate large-format film presentations and a slow-moving dark ride through audio-animatronic filled sets.
The Universe of Energy pavilion was previously sponsored by ExxonMobil (formerly Exxon) from opening day on October 1, 1982, through 2004. At D23 Expo 2017, it was announced that the Universe of Energy pavilion would close to be replaced with a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed roller coaster. The attraction closed permanently on August 13, 2017.