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Energy and society

Energy is essential for the growth of our society and its economic development, but also for the tasks we all go about on a daily basis. There are many aspects to consider.

So much that, as happens in anything related to human activity, there may be different visions on the matter: opposing, complementary and, in many cases, contradictory.

 

Energy consumption

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In the last 100 years, energy consumption has risen constantly to follow the rate at which the standard of living of our society has grown. The welfare society cannot be understood without energy consumption. Present consumption habits, however, have consequences in different areas.

For example, in the same way that we see our daily transport as something natural, it has an impact on the economy and the environment because it requires prospection and production of energy, supply chains and consumption networks that go unnoticed by us.

The most consumed energy sources in the world is oi. Following the crisis in the 1970s, its price has increased considerably. However, consumption has also followed the same trend.

Nowadays, 80% of world consumption of oil is used in transport. In Euskadi, 95% of transports depends on oil. This figure is very important when it comes to looking for alternatives, as private car use is deeply-rooted in society. Although viable alternatives exist – e.g. electric cars – they are not very common yet nor have they reached society as a whole.

Recently, the international situation has favoured a reduction in the price of a barrel of oil to levels unknown years ago. While this is good for the recovery of dependent economies from a certain point of view, on the other hand it does not help to drive cleaner energies that are alternatives to oil.

Proven reserves of oil are still very high, and there is certainty that they will increase in the future. Moreover, wells abandoned for their low profitability may be recovered once the price of oil rises again.

As a result, it is reasonable to think that oil will not run out any time soon, and we should consider the need to reduce its consumption and the associated emissions, because the planet as a whole will not be able to absorb them.

El futuro energético de Euskadi

Furthermore more, it is a scarce energy in our part of the world, so it has to be imported

Together with the consequences this has for the balance of payments, the situation of producer countries has to be taken into account, as all the reserves are concentrated in a small number of regions around the world, many of them undergoing high levels of instability.

Finally, it is crucial to modify people’s consumption habits and the way in which we manage energy on a daily basis. The trend should be to less consumption, although this cannot be achieved overnight.

These are the different ‘faces’ of energy. Basically, they are aspects that are more complex than, at first sight, just filling a car’s petrol tank.

From there, all energy has its advantages and disadvantages. They all have positive and negative aspects. We supply our daily energy needs from a variety of sources, which is generally known as the ‘energy mix’. Euskadi’s objective in the future is to gradually reduce the use of fossil fuels and use cleaner renewable energies. However, it is not a transition that be achieved overnight.

In the meantime, the use of ‘bridging’ energy sources will be necessary to cover demand (e.g. natural gas, which is cleaner and produces fewer emissions than fossil fuels), until the time comes when technological progress brings about the supremacy of renewable energies.