Understanding energy security

To mark the Sustainable Energy Futures Annual Conference 2015 our latest post is from Aleksandrs Svilans one of the students from our MSc. Here he talks about his project Energy Security in the Asia Pacific: A quantitative analysis, which he will be presenting during the Energy development policy session on Friday.

With the increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, and to do so cost-effectively, energy security is one dimension of the ‘energy trilemma’ that has often been overlooked. Literature on energy security has seen a renewed interest in recent years, particularly in relation to the exposure of national economies to energy price shocks or supply disruptions.

The aim of my thesis is to develop a methodology for the quantitative analysis of national energy security in the Asia-Pacific, to aid national policy development by providing policy insights. In my thesis I argue that due to the unique nature of the region with respect to an increasingly integrated global economy, current methods are inadequate for the assessment of national energy security.


During a price shock, the equilibrium of the national economy is altered. If equilibrium is not regained, the economy can experience different types of economic loss, all of which have a negative impact on the wider economy, the balance of trade, and national welfare. Therefore, energy security is of critical importance in the development of national energy policies. The quantitative analysis of energy security is an area that has attracted interest from both researchers and policy makers.

The appropriate assessment requires a regional approach to provide critical comparative analysis, and requires determining a universal, but flexible, concept for national energy security and the application of a systems of systems approach. This would allow for an equitable assessment, and accurate insight regarding national energy policy in the context of international affairs and trade.

The increasing integration of the global economy has advantages and disadvantages. The global economy is more interconnected and efficient, but it is also less resilient. Source: http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview.
The increasing integration of the global economy has advantages and disadvantages. The global economy is more interconnected and efficient, but it is also less resilient. Source: http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview.

During the summer term I was fortunate enough to spend two months at the Energy Studies Institute of the National University of Singapore as a visiting researcher, working on my thesis and engaging with researchers from related fields. I was supervised externally by Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, distinguished head of the energy security division at the institute and world expert on East Asian energy affairs, and my tenure at the Institute provided me with expert advice and insight, from which I otherwise would not have benefited.

Despite certain limitations associated with the developed methodology, there was a reasonable degree of accord between the policy insights derived from the analysis, and national energy policy development in the region. Therefore, the methodology has the potential to aid national energy policy development, provided certain limitations are addressed.

Further research should focus on the development of a methodology that can evaluate national energy security in absolute terms. The ability to express national energy security in absolute economic terms can provide more precise insight into energy policy development with respect to national energy security, by analyzing major risks and identifying means of minimizing such risks.

It appears that this is an area that would benefit from a multidisciplinary approach, being relevant to applied science, political science, economics, and risk studies, amongst other disciplines, a view which is shared by a number of authors in the field.


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