GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Fukushima, Arab Spring, and Shale Gas: Future Revisited
Paper Proposal Text :
The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, first commissioned in 1971, with a combined power of 4.7 Giga Watts equivalent, making Fukushima Daiichi one of the 15 largest nuclear power stations in the world. The plant suffered major damage from the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 and is not expected to reopen. The earthquake and tsunami disabled the reactor cooling systems, leading to nuclear radiation leaks and triggering a 30 km evacuation zone surrounding the plant. On April 20, 2011, the Japanese authorities declared the 20 km evacuation zone a no-go area which may only be entered under government supervision. This event had several consequences. First, the renewable energy resources are important, but not necessarily sustainable in long term. Second, despite of the human bold achievements on high technologies in energy industries, uncertainties of energy future are more specific and dealing with them are more complicated. Third, conventional energy carriers like coal, oil, and gas still play the major role for the energy sector. Especially in transportation, despite of all progress on using solar, wind, and biomass energies, 90 percent of transportation still relies to the fuel directly or indirectly by conversion of oil to electricity.

The Arab Spring is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010. To date revolutions have occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, resulting in the fall of its regime; civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen; major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman; and minor protests in Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara. Clashes at the borders of Israel in May 2011 have also been inspired by the regional Arab Spring. The consequences of a series of upheavals in Arab states on energy markets are multi-layers phenomena. Geopolitically, these countries are dominant powers to the straits and waterways which is the bed of oil and gas flow to the rest of the world. Strait of Hormuz passes 16.5 million barrels per day of crude, as Bab el-Mandab is carrying 6 mb/d and Suez Canal as 5 mb/d. On production side, Libya’s stream at 2.6 mb/d on daily oil still is not clear, needs time. Egypt’s gas export to Israel and Jordan is not fixed, and Saudi’s situation, especially domestic politics in oil rich eastern part of the country and interaction with Shi’a’s majority is unclear. At the same time, optimistically, the new governments of Arab states will be democratic, therefore need huge jobs for young generations, more consumption of energy indigenously, less for export.
At the same time, shale gas has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United States over the past decade, and interest has spread to potential gas shales in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. One analyst expects shale gas to supply as much as half the natural gas production in North America by 2020. Some analysts expect that shale gas will greatly expand worldwide energy supply. A study by the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University concluded that increased shale gas production in the US and Canada could help prevent Russia and Persian Gulf countries from dictating higher prices for the gas it exports to European countries. The Obama administration believes that increased shale gas development will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is growing evidence that the extraction and use of shale gas results in the release of more greenhouse gases than conventional natural gas, and may lead to emissions greater than those of oil or coal.
This article wants to answer few questions:
1- What is the future of renewables after Fukushima disaster?
2- What are consequences of Arab Spring to the energy security, specifically in demand, supply and price sides?
3- What are the impacts of new shale gas reserves on energy markets?
4- Does it need any changes to energy policy of main exhaustible resource producers/consumers?