As the US surges ahead in oil production, it’s not unreasonable for many to assume that energy security is no longer a concern. The truth of the matter, however, is that energy security is still facing a few long-term challenges that, if left unchecked, will hinder any progress made over the last decade.
Oil Industry Reputation
One of the biggest threats to modern energy security is the somewhat ominous reputation currently looming over the oil and gas industry. Strong convictions pertaining to electric automobiles and peak oil demand are constantly up for debate. When coupled with a powerful drive for renewable energy research, the perceived future of the oil and gas industry is tenuous at best.
Those working in the industry implore stakeholders to use fact and logic to assist with decisions as opposed to public hype and unsubstantiated predictions.
Oil and gas are used for so much more than passenger vehicles. There’s shipping and air freight to consider, as well as the production of petrochemicals. There’s the fact that renewable energy is not yet sustainable enough to meet high demands across multiple industries. In fact, alternative energy currently only accounts for roughly two percent of primary energy demand.
Many also fail to realize that universal use of electric vehicles translates to a rather large uptick in coal mining and utilization since a vast number of populated countries rely on the mineral to help produce electricity.
The International Energy Agency predicts a substantial decline in nuclear power generation between now and 2040 if nothing is done to improve policy or solicit investment.
Currently little to no investment or policy changes are being made to help sustain the life of current nuclear power plants. The facilities require upkeep and attention in order to run safely and securely — something that they fail to receive in most countries outside of China and India.
The International Energy Agency believes that the negative public perception of nuclear energy, coupled with competition from economic alternatives, hinders the industry’s ability to lobby for positive policy change and investment opportunity.
If everything remains the same, nuclear power production could drop as much as twenty percent in developed countries over the next 21 years.
To help combat declining interest in the field, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it will award 45 undergraduate scholarships and 33 graduate fellowships to students pursuing degrees in nuclear energy. The investment will total approximately $5 million, and is designed to attract individuals capable of meeting future nuclear industry challenges head-on.