The New Global Oil Market: Understanding Energy Issues in the World Economy

By Siamack Shojai | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
Sources of Energy and the Environment

Asbjorn Torvanger

Of all human activities the extraction, conversion, and consumption of energy are among those having most influence over the environment. The influence can be in terms of air and water pollution, solid waste, global warming, and land depreciation. Associated with these environmental influences are consequences in terms of public health effects and increased corrosion of infrastructure, buildings, and works of art, and a possible reduced productivity in agriculture and forestry. The environmental effects depend on energy extraction, conversion efficiency, energy and use, fuel mix, and on the level of emission mitigation. There is some uncertainty associated with the physical and biological effects of energy production and use due to insufficient knowledge, natural variations, potential synergistic effects, and potential threshold contamination levels. For some energy production activities, like nuclear power production, there is some risk of accidents of extensive and serious consequences.

This chapter briefly considers the most important energy sources, their fuel cycle from production to end use, and the major factors determining the total environment impact. Then the environment impacts in terms of emission of pollutants and other effects of each energy source are discussed with reference to different types of environmental impacts, such as local impacts, acid deposits, and climate change. Priority is given to the description of various energy sources and their environmental impacts, whereas the treatment of mitigation options like energy efficiency improvement and environmental control technologies is cut short.


ENERGY SOURCES, FUEL CYCLES, AND TOTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Energy sources can be divided into exhaustible and renewable energy sources. The exhaustible energy sources are the fossil fuels--oil, coal, and natural gas--

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