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Final thesis
Environmental Sciences

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Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz - KFU

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Bednar-Friedl 2011

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Conclusio

Electric cars bring along diverse interesting aspects: How are the car parts produced? Where does the energy come from? How environmentally friendly is the whole power production system? How does a smart grid work and does it even exist? Is the technology already mature enough? Are batteries long lasting enough to provide a specific range? … There are a lot more questions like these and hardly one of them can be answered with a hundred percent certainty.

This is caused by the fact that, even though the first electric car was produced in the first half of the 19th century, the technology development is still not finished. Technicians still try to evolve and improve e-cars, while others try to make them as affordable for all as possible.

China is now investing a lot of effort and money into the electric car technology to become market leader on a global scale. This shows us that finally emerging markets are catching up with an ecological way of thinking and the world seems to understand that the environment cannot be treated as it has been in the last decades.

Certainly this kind of change cannot be done overnight and so China’s energy production still calls attention by its large amount of dirty coal power plants. Hopefully China is truly thinking about becoming energy autarkic with the aid of renewable energies and not only pretending to because of further growth expectations and image reasons.

In the end we can look to the future full of expectations. As long as automobile producing companies go along with the trend of a more sustainable transportation system, fossil fuel prices keep going up, the society gives some pressure towards eco-development and emerging markets with an enormously fast growing population do also concentrate on getting cleaner vehicles the future looks quite attractive.

China’s ambitions for electric cars will hopefully also swop to India, Brazil and other populous countries, who will definitely be the main influencers in the fu.....[read full text]

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Linde, Arvid. 2010. “Electric Cars – The future is now! Your Guide to the cars you can buy now and what the future holds”. England.Veloce Publishing Limited.

Mack, Eric; Waterman, Michael.n.y. “The Disadvantages of Electric Cars”.On: Vehix - Automotive Articles.

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Pureelectric.us. 2008. “Electric Vehicle Efficiency”.

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REN21. 2010. “Renewables 2010 Global Status Report”.< (07.05.2011).

Spiegel.de 2010. “China will 32 Atomkraftwerke bauen”.

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The Economist. 2008. “A survey of cars in emerging markets: A Global Love Affair - Emerging markets are the car industry’s big hope”. < (12.05.2011).

The Economist. 2011. “Central planning takes a black eye”.

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The Week. 2010. “The future of the electric car – After years of talk but little action, automakers are starting to churn out all-electric vehicles. But will anyone buy them?”.< (12.05.2011).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. n.y. “Energy Requirements – Advanced Technologies & Energy Efficiency”.

< (07.05.2011).

User: Omegatron. 2007. “World Energy Usage Width Chart.Svg”.from: Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. < (03.05.2011).

Westbrook, Michael H. 2005. “Development and future of battery, hybrid and fuel cell cars”. Cambridge.Macreth Media Service, Hemel Hempstead.

Wikipedia- Die freieEnzykolpädie. 2011. “Alessandro Vo.....

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In the second, third and fourth chapter of this work the geopolitics of the United States of America, the People´s Republic of China and the Russian Federation are analyzed on the base of the current energy consumption of those states, their domestic energy production and their needs for energy imports. After the analysis some of the current and predicted geopolitics of energy of each of the observed countries will be discussed.

2             Geopolitics of the United States of America

This chapter focuses on several areas directly relevant to the geopolitical decisions of the United States, including the energy consumption plus forecasts, the current mix of energy sources to meet demand, the energy production and the import of primary energy. Furthermore geopolitical strategies concerning the gulf region and the Nabucco pipeline would be discussed.

2.1         Energy consumption

First of all it is necessary to take a look at the U.S. energy consumption to understand and analyse the geopolitics of energy.

Due to the highly developed and industrialized society the United States use a high volume of energy. The per capita consumption accounted in 2007 about 8,000 kilo oil equivalent, twice the amount of an Austrian consumer (3,997 kilo) (The World Bank < (30.03.2011)). The total consumption in 2009 amounts to 94.6 quadrillion btu.

Figure 1: Share of Energy Consumed by Major Sectors of the Economy in 2009

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

, (2.....

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But after the regeneration the energy use will rise until 2035 to 31 quadrillion btu.

2.2         Energy production

Figure 4: U.S. Primary Energy Production by Major Source (2009)

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

< >, (25.03.2011)

Since the mid-1980s coal is the leading source to produce energy, followed by natural gas not including liquid gas. Due to oil crisis the crude oil production declined sharply in the mid-1980s and rank third in 2009. Nuclear Electric Power production played, with 8 quadrillion btu, also a significant role. Unfortunately Hydroelectric Power, Biomass and other renewable technologies like wind or solar played only a secondary role.

2.3        
Import & Export

Figure 5: Primary Energy Overview

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

< >, (24.03.2011)

Until the late 1950s the United States were able to meet their demand with domestic sources, but then the consumption starts to outpace the production. To fill the gaps between energy use and production primary energy has to be imported. In 2009 net imported energy accounted for 24% of all energy consumed and about 7 quadrillion btu energy were exported.

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2.4.1     Geopoliticalstrategiesconcerningoil

Figure 7: Sources of oil imports (Top 15 countries) of January 2011

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

< >, (24.03.2011)

This chart shows the sources of United States oil imports of January 2011. Over half of the everyday oil imports came from the Western Hemisphere. Canada, Mexico and Venezuela accounted with 50% for the bulk of these imports. The gulf region, including Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, supplied about 20% of total oil imports. Nearly 14% came from Africa and Eurasian countries supplied about 9%.

In total generally 25 countries supply oil to the United States. This fact confirms the strategy of diversification of sources, which got mentioned in the “National Energy Report” of 2001, because a concentration on any one country is a potential contributor to market instability. [National Energy Policy Development Group. 2001: 134]

The gulf region

The following points should illustrate some reasons why the gulf region, mainly Iraq, plays an important role in the development of U.S. geopolitical strategies:

·         The gulf region produced in 2010 approximately 30% of the world’s oil (U.S. Energy Information Administration < >, (27.03.2011))and held slightly over 55% of the proved crude oil reserves (U.S. Energy Information Administration < >, (27......

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About 15 countries are on the list of potential suppliers of natural gas, including Turkey, Iran or Azerbaijan. This also confirms the strategy of diversification of sources, which was mentioned by the geopolitics concerning oil.

The “Nabucco”-Pipeline (Engdhal, 2009: 1-3)

The route of the „Nabucco“-Pipeline should stretch from Baku in Azerbaijan to Austria, crossing Armenia, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. This pipeline could be an alternative to Gazproms „South Stream“-Pipeline, and could lead to a reduction of Russian influence of the European energy sector.

But why is the pipeline a part of the U.S. geopolitics of energy?

The „Nabucco“-Pipeline could influence the geopolitical balance of forces in the Middle-East and Central Asia for the benefit of the United States. This synthesizes a very important step because of the huge energy reserves of these regions. Besides the supreme power of Russia at the natural gas market could be reduced. To achieve the construction of the pipeline the U.S. government tries to improve their relations to the participating countries.

Therefore Barack Obama, the president of the United States, held inter alia a conversation with RecepErdogan, the prime minister of Turkey. The main objective of Barack Obama was the resumption of the diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, because Armenia plays a key role in securing the construction. Furthermore the United States tries to build or rather enhance their relationships to Iran, which could be a major supplier for the “Nabucco”-pipeline.

2             Geopolitics of the People´s Republic of China

2.5         The Energy Situation in China

The Peoples Republic of China is in the position to own great resources on fossil energy, strong rivers and recently also focuses on renewable energy. 40% of the worlds coal reserves are located within the country. But exploitation of these resources could not keep up with demand of Chinas fast growing economy. While the PRC was still energy self-sufficient in 1993, in 2007 43% of .....

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