Energy industry
Overview
 
The energy industry is the totality of all of the industries
Industry
Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

 involved in the production and sale of energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

, including fuel
Fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

 extraction, manufacturing, refining
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

 and distribution. Modern society consumes large amounts of fuel, and the energy industry is a crucial part of the infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 and maintenance of society in almost all countries
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

.

In particular, the energy industry comprises:
  • the petroleum industry
    Petroleum industry
    The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting , and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline...

    , including oil companies, petroleum refiners, fuel transport and end-user sales at gas stations
  • the gas industry, including natural gas
    Natural gas
    Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

     extraction, and coal gas
    Coal gas
    Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal containing a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen...

     manufacture, as well as distribution and sales
  • the electrical power industry
    Electrical power industry
    The electric power industry provides the production and delivery of electric energy, often known as power, or electricity, in sufficient quantities to areas that need electricity through a grid connection. The grid distributes electrical energy to customers...

    , including electricity generation
    Electricity generation
    Electricity generation is the process of generating electric energy from other forms of energy.The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday...

    , electric power distribution
    Electric power distribution
    File:Electricity grid simple- North America.svg|thumb|380px|right|Simplified diagram of AC electricity distribution from generation stations to consumers...

     and sales
  • the coal
    Coal
    Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

     industry
  • the nuclear power
    Nuclear power
    Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

     industry
  • the renewable energy industry, comprising alternative energy
    Alternative energy
    Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels....

     and sustainable energy
    Sustainable energy
    Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources include all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal...

     companies, including those involved in hydroelectric power, wind power
    Wind power
    Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

    , and solar power
    Solar power
    Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

     generation, and the manufacture, distribution and sale of alternative fuel
    Alternative fuel
    Alternative fuels, known as non-conventional or advanced fuels, are any materials or substances that can be used as fuels, other than conventional fuels...

    s
  • traditional energy industry based on the collection and distribution of firewood
    Firewood
    Firewood is any wood-like material that is gathered and used for fuel. Generally, firewood is not highly processed and is in some sort of recognizable log or branch form....

    , the use of which, for cooking and heating, is particularly common in poorer countries

The use of energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 has been a key in the development of the human society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 by helping it to control and adapt to the environment
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

.
Encyclopedia
The energy industry is the totality of all of the industries
Industry
Industry refers to the production of an economic good or service within an economy.-Industrial sectors:There are four key industrial economic sectors: the primary sector, largely raw material extraction industries such as mining and farming; the secondary sector, involving refining, construction,...

 involved in the production and sale of energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

, including fuel
Fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

 extraction, manufacturing, refining
Oil refinery
An oil refinery or petroleum refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful petroleum products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt base, heating oil, kerosene, and liquefied petroleum gas...

 and distribution. Modern society consumes large amounts of fuel, and the energy industry is a crucial part of the infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 and maintenance of society in almost all countries
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

.

In particular, the energy industry comprises:
  • the petroleum industry
    Petroleum industry
    The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting , and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline...

    , including oil companies, petroleum refiners, fuel transport and end-user sales at gas stations
  • the gas industry, including natural gas
    Natural gas
    Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

     extraction, and coal gas
    Coal gas
    Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal containing a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen...

     manufacture, as well as distribution and sales
  • the electrical power industry
    Electrical power industry
    The electric power industry provides the production and delivery of electric energy, often known as power, or electricity, in sufficient quantities to areas that need electricity through a grid connection. The grid distributes electrical energy to customers...

    , including electricity generation
    Electricity generation
    Electricity generation is the process of generating electric energy from other forms of energy.The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday...

    , electric power distribution
    Electric power distribution
    File:Electricity grid simple- North America.svg|thumb|380px|right|Simplified diagram of AC electricity distribution from generation stations to consumers...

     and sales
  • the coal
    Coal
    Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

     industry
  • the nuclear power
    Nuclear power
    Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

     industry
  • the renewable energy industry, comprising alternative energy
    Alternative energy
    Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels....

     and sustainable energy
    Sustainable energy
    Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources include all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal...

     companies, including those involved in hydroelectric power, wind power
    Wind power
    Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

    , and solar power
    Solar power
    Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

     generation, and the manufacture, distribution and sale of alternative fuel
    Alternative fuel
    Alternative fuels, known as non-conventional or advanced fuels, are any materials or substances that can be used as fuels, other than conventional fuels...

    s
  • traditional energy industry based on the collection and distribution of firewood
    Firewood
    Firewood is any wood-like material that is gathered and used for fuel. Generally, firewood is not highly processed and is in some sort of recognizable log or branch form....

    , the use of which, for cooking and heating, is particularly common in poorer countries

History

The use of energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 has been a key in the development of the human society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 by helping it to control and adapt to the environment
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

. Managing the use of energy is inevitable in any functional society. In the industrialized world the development of energy resources has become essential for agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

ation, waste collection
Sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

, information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, communications
Telecommunication
Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate. In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages via coded...

 that have become prerequisites of a developed society. The increasing use of energy since the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 has also brought with it a number of serious problems, some of which, such as global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

, present potentially grave risks to the world.

In society and in the context of humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

, the word energy is used as a synonym of energy resources
Energy development
Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy....

, and most often refers to substances like fuels, petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 products and electricity
Electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 in general. These are sources of usable energy, in that they can be easily transformed to other kinds of energy sources that can serve a particular useful purpose. This difference vis a vis energy in natural sciences
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 can lead to some confusion, because energy resources are not conserved in nature in the same way as energy is conserved in the context of physics. The actual energy content is always conserved, but when it is converted into heat for example, it usually becomes less useful to society, and thus appears to have been "used up".

Ever since humanity discovered various energy resources available in nature, it has been inventing devices, known as machines, that make life more comfortable by using energy resources. Thus, although the primitive man knew the utility of fire to cook food, the invention of devices like gas burners and microwave ovens has increased the usage of energy for this purpose alone manifold. The trend is tha same in any other field of social activity, be it construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 of social infrastructure, manufacturing of fabrics for covering; porting; printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

; decorating, for example textiles, air conditioning
Air conditioning
An air conditioner is a home appliance, system, or mechanism designed to dehumidify and extract heat from an area. The cooling is done using a simple refrigeration cycle...

; communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

 of information or for moving people and goods (automobiles).

Economics

Production
Energy development
Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy....

 and consumption
World energy resources and consumption
]World energy consumption in 2010: over 5% growthEnergy markets have combined crisis recovery and strong industry dynamism. Energy consumption in the G20 soared by more than 5% in 2010, after the slight decrease of 2009. This strong increase is the result of two converging trends...

 of energy resources is very important to the global economy. All economic activity requires energy resources, whether to manufacture
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 goods, provide transport
Transport
Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

ation, run computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

s and other machine
Machine
A machine manages power to accomplish a task, examples include, a mechanical system, a computing system, an electronic system, and a molecular machine. In common usage, the meaning is that of a device having parts that perform or assist in performing any type of work...

s.

Widespread demand for energy may encourage competing energy utilities
Public utility
A public utility is an organization that maintains the infrastructure for a public service . Public utilities are subject to forms of public control and regulation ranging from local community-based groups to state-wide government monopolies...

 and the formation of retail
Retailing
Retail consists of the sale of physical goods or merchandise from a fixed location, such as a department store, boutique or kiosk, or by mail, in small or individual lots for direct consumption by the purchaser. Retailing may include subordinated services, such as delivery. Purchasers may be...

 energy market
Energy market
Energy markets are those commodities markets that deal specifically with the trade and supply of energy. Energy market may refer to an electricity market, but can also refer to other sources of energy...

s. Note the presence of the "Energy Marketing and Customer Service" (EMACS) sub-sector.

Management

Since the cost of energy has become a significant factor in the performance of economy of societies, management of energy resources has become very crucial. Energy management involves utilizing the available energy resources more effectively that is with minimum incremental costs. Many times it is possible to save expenditure on energy without incorporating fresh technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 by simple management
Management
Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively...

 techniques. Most often energy management is the practice of using energy more efficiently by eliminating energy wastage or to balance justifiable energy demand with appropriate energy supply. The process couples energy awareness with energy conservation
Energy conservation
Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources...

.

Government

The United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 developed the International Standard Industrial Classification
International Standard Industrial Classification
The International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities is a United Nations system for classifying economic data. The United Nations Statistics Division describes it in the following terms:...

, which is a list of economic and social classifications. There is no distinct classification for an energy industry, because the classification system is based on activities, products, and expenditures according to purpose.

Countries in North America use the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The NAICS sectors #21 and #22 (mining and utilities) might roughly define the energy industry in North America. This classification is used by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Financial market

The Global Industry Classification Standard
Global Industry Classification Standard
The Global Industry Classification Standard is an industry taxonomy developed by MSCI and Standard & Poor's for use by the global financial community. The GICS structure consists of 10 sectors, 24 industry groups, 68 industries and 154 sub-industries into which S&P has categorized all major...

 used by Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm headquartered in New York City serving a diversified group of corporations, governments, financial institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley also operates in 36 countries around the world, with over 600 offices and a workforce of over 60,000....

 define the energy industry as comprising companies primarily working with oil, gas, coal and consumable fuels, excluding companies working with certain industrial gases.

Add also to expand this section: Dow Jones Industrial Average
Dow Jones Industrial Average
The Dow Jones Industrial Average , also called the Industrial Average, the Dow Jones, the Dow 30, or simply the Dow, is a stock market index, and one of several indices created by Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company co-founder Charles Dow...


Environmental impact

Government encouragement in the form of subsidies
Subsidy
A subsidy is an assistance paid to a business or economic sector. Most subsidies are made by the government to producers or distributors in an industry to prevent the decline of that industry or an increase in the prices of its products or simply to encourage it to hire more labor A subsidy (also...

 and tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

 incentive
Incentive
In economics and sociology, an incentive is any factor that enables or motivates a particular course of action, or counts as a reason for preferring one choice to the alternatives. It is an expectation that encourages people to behave in a certain way...

s for energy-conservation
Energy conservation
Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources...

 efforts has increasingly fostered the view of conservation as a major function of the energy industry: saving an amount of energy provides economic benefits almost identical to generating that same amount of energy. This is compounded by the fact that the economics of delivering energy tend to be priced for capacity as opposed to average usage. One of the purposes of a smart grid infrastructure is to smooth out demand so that capacity and demand curves align more closely.

Some parts of the energy industry generate considerable pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

, including toxic and greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

es from fuel combustion, nuclear waste from the generation of nuclear power, and oil spillages as a result of petroleum extraction. Government regulations to internalize these externalities
Externality
In economics, an externality is a cost or benefit, not transmitted through prices, incurred by a party who did not agree to the action causing the cost or benefit...

 form an increasing part of doing business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

, and the trading of carbon credit
Carbon credit
A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the mass of another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide....

s and pollution credits on the free market may also result in energy-saving and pollution-control measures becoming even more important to energy providers.

The large-scale use of renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 technologies would "greatly mitigate or eliminate a wide range of environmental and human health impacts of energy use". Renewable energy technologies include biofuels, solar heating and cooling, hydroelectric power, solar power
Solar power
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

, and wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

.

Consumption of energy resources, (e.g. turning on a light) requires resources and has an effect on the environment
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

. Many electric power plants burn coal, oil or natural gas in order to generate electricity for energy needs. While burning these fossil fuels produces a readily available and instantaneous supply of electricity, it also generates air pollutants including carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide and trioxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx
NOx
NOx is a generic term for the mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2 . They are produced from the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen gases in the air during combustion, especially at high temperatures...

). Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

 which is thought to be responsible for some fraction of the rapid increase in global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 seen especially in the temperature records in the 20th century, as compared with tens of thousands of years worth of temperature records which can be read from ice cores taken in Arctic regions. Burning fossil fuels for electricity generation also releases trace metals such as beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, manganese, mercury, nickel, and silver into the environment, which also act as pollutants.

The large-scale use of renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 technologies would "greatly mitigate or eliminate a wide range of environmental and human health impacts of energy use". Renewable energy technologies include biofuels, solar heating and cooling, hydroelectric power, solar power
Solar power
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

, and wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

. Energy conservation
Energy conservation
Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources...

 and the efficient use of energy
Efficient energy use
Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal of efforts to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature...

 would also help.

In addition, it is argued that there is also the potential to develop a more efficient energy sector. This can be done by:
  • Fuel switching in the power sector from coal
    Coal
    Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

     to natural gas
    Natural gas
    Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

    ;
  • Power plant optimisation and other measures to improve the efficiency of existing CCGT power plants;
  • Combined heat and power
    Combined Heat and Power
    Combined Heat and Power may refer to:* Cogeneration* Combined Heat and Power Solar...

     (CHP), from micro-scale residential to large-scale industrial;
  • Waste heat recovery

Best available technology
Best Available Technology
Best available technology is a term applied with regulations on limiting pollutant discharges with regard to the abatement strategy. Similar terms are best available techniques , best practicable means or best practicable environmental option...

 (BAT) offers supply-side efficiency levels far higher than global averages. The relative benefits of gas compared to coal are influenced by the development of increasingly efficient energy production methods. According to an impact assessment carried out for the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

, the levels of energy efficiency
Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency may refer to:*Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency.*Energy conversion efficiency, the ratio between the output and input of an energy conversion machine....

 of coal fired plants built have now increased to 46-49% efficiency rates, as compared to coals plants built before the 1990s (32-40%). However, at the same time gas is can reach 58-59% efficiency levels with the best available technology. Meanwhile, combined heat and power
Combined Heat and Power
Combined Heat and Power may refer to:* Cogeneration* Combined Heat and Power Solar...

 can offer efficiency rates of 80-90%.

Politics

Since now energy plays an essential role in industrial societies
Industrial society
In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the west in the period of time following the Industrial Revolution, and replaced...

, the ownership and control of energy resources plays an increasing role in politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

. At the national level, governments seek to influence the sharing (distribution) of energy resources among various sections of the society through pricing mechanisms; or even who owns resources within their borders. They may also seek to influence the use of energy by individuals and business in an attempt to tackle environmental issues.

The most recent international political controversy regarding energy resources is in the context of the Iraq wars. Some political analysts maintain that the hidden reason for both 1991 and 2003 wars can be traced to strategic
Strategy
Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked...

 control of international energy resources. Others counter this analysis with the numbers related to its economics. According to the latter group of analysts, U.S. has spent about $336 billion in Iraq as compared with a background current value of $25 billion per year budget for the entire U.S. oil import dependence

Policy

Energy policy is the manner in which a given entity (often governmental) has decided to address issues of energy development
Energy development
Energy development is the effort to provide sufficient primary energy sources and secondary energy forms for supply, cost, impact on air pollution and water pollution, mitigation of climate change with renewable energy....

 including energy production, distribution
Resource distribution
Resource distribution refers to the distribution of resources, including land, water, minerals, fuel and wealth in general among corresponding geographic entities .-Unequal resource distribution:...

 and consumption
Consumption (economics)
Consumption is a common concept in economics, and gives rise to derived concepts such as consumer debt. Generally, consumption is defined in part by comparison to production. But the precise definition can vary because different schools of economists define production quite differently...

. The attributes of energy policy may include legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

, international treaties, incentives to investment, guidelines for energy conservation
Energy conservation
Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources...

, tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

ation and other public policy techniques.

Security

Energy security is the intersection of national security
National security
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

 and the availability of natural resource
Natural resource
Natural resources occur naturally within environments that exist relatively undisturbed by mankind, in a natural form. A natural resource is often characterized by amounts of biodiversity and geodiversity existent in various ecosystems....

s for energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 consumption. Access to cheap energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 has become essential to the functioning of modern economies. However, the uneven distribution of energy supplies among countries has led to significant vulnerabilities. Threats to energy security include the political instability of several energy producing countries, the manipulation of energy supplies, the competition over energy sources, attacks on supply infrastructure, as well as accidents,natural disasters, the funding to foreign dictators, rising terrorism, and dominant countries reliance to the foreign oil supply. The limited supplies, uneven distribution, and rising costs of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, create a need to change to more sustainable energy
Sustainable energy
Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources include all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal...

 sources in the foreseeable future. With as much dependence that the U.S. currently has for oil and with the peaking limits of oil production; economies and societies will begin to feel the decline in the resource that we have become dependent upon. Energy security has become one of the leading issues in the world today as oil and other resources have become as vital to the world's people. However with oil production rates decreasing and oil production peak nearing the world has come to protect what resources we have left in the world. With new advancements in renewable resources less pressure has been put on companies that produce the worlds oil, these resources are, geothermal, solar power, wind power and hydro-electric. Although these are not all the current and possible future options for the world to turn to as the oil depletes the most important issue is protecting these vital resources from future threats. These new resources will become more useful as the price of exporting and importing oil will increase due to increase of demand.

Development

Producing energy to sustain human needs is an essential social activity, and a great deal of effort goes into the activity. While most of such effort is limited towards increasing the production of electricity and oil
Oil exploration
Hydrocarbon exploration is the search by petroleum geologists and geophysicists for hydrocarbon deposits beneath the Earth's surface, such as oil and natural gas...

, newer ways of producing usable energy resources from the available energy resources are being explored. One such effort is to explore means of producing hydrogen fuel
Hydrogen fuel
An ecologically-friendly fuel which uses electrochemical cells or combusts in internal engines to power vehicles and electric devices. It is also used in the propulsion of spacecraft and can potentially be mass produced and commercialized for passenger vehicles and aircraft.In a flame of pure...

 from water. Though hydrogen use is environmentally friendly, its production requires energy and existing technologies to make it, are not very efficient. Research is underway to explore enzymatic decomposition of biomass.

Other forms of conventional energy resources are also being used in new ways. Coal gasification and liquefaction
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 are recent technologies that are becoming attractive after the realization that oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

, at present consumption rates, may be rather short lived. See alternative fuels.

Transportation

All societies require materials and food to be transported over distances, generally against some force of friction. Since application of force over distance requires the presence of a source of usable energy, such sources are of great worth in society.

While energy resources are an essential ingredient for all modes of transportation in society, the transportation of energy resources is becoming equally important. Energy resources are frequently located far from the place where they are consumed. Therefore their transportation is always in question. Some energy resources like liquid or gaseous fuels are transported using tankers or pipelines
Pipeline transport
Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquids and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air are also used....

, while electricity transportation invariably requires a network of grid cables. The transportation of energy, whether by tanker, pipeline, or transmission line, poses challenges for scientists and engineers, policy makers, and economists to make it more risk-free and efficient.

Crises

Economic and political instability can lead to an energy crisis
Energy crisis
An energy crisis is any great bottleneck in the supply of energy resources to an economy. In popular literature though, it often refers to one of the energy sources used at a certain time and place, particularly those that supply national electricity grids or serve as fuel for vehicles...

. Notable oil crises
Oil crisis
Oil crisis may refer to:1970s*1970s energy crisis*1973 oil crisis*1979 energy crisisPost 1970s*Oil price increase of 1990*2000s energy crisis...

 are the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

 and the 1979 oil crisis. The advent of peak oil
Peak oil
Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. This concept is based on the observed production rates of individual oil wells, projected reserves and the combined production rate of a field...

, the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, will likely precipitate another energy crisis.

See also

  • Alternative energy
    Alternative energy
    Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels....

  • Canadian Centre for Energy Information
    Canadian Centre for Energy Information
    The Canadian Centre for Energy Information is a non-profit organization created in 2002 to meet an urgent need for information on all aspects of the Canadian energy system from oil, natural gas, coal, thermal, and hydroelectric power through to nuclear, solar, wind, and other sources of energy...

  • Energetics
    Energetics
    Energetics is the study of energy under transformation. Because energy flows at all scales, from the quantum level to the biosphere and cosmos, energetics is a very broad discipline, encompassing for example thermodynamics, chemistry, biological energetics, biochemistry and ecological energetics...

  • Energy accounting
    Energy accounting
    Energy accounting is a system used within industry, where measuring and analyzing the energy consumption of different activities is done to improve energy efficiency.-Energy management:...

  • Energy quality
    Energy quality
    Energy quality is the contrast between different forms of energy, the different trophic levels in ecological systems and the propensity of energy to convert from one form to another. The concept refers to the empirical experience of the characteristics, or qualia, of different energy forms as they...

  • Energy transformation
  • Hydrogen economy
    Hydrogen economy
    The hydrogen economy is a proposed system of delivering energy using hydrogen. The term hydrogen economy was coined by John Bockris during a talk he gave in 1970 at General Motors Technical Center....

  • List of countries by energy consumption per capita
  • List of energy resources
  • World energy consumption

External Links

Energy Industry News from Platts
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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