Ensuring the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price
The IEA defines energy security as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price. Energy security has many aspects: long-term energy security mainly deals with timely investments to supply energy in line with economic developments and environmental needs. On the other hand, short-term energy security focuses on the ability of the energy system to react promptly to sudden changes in the supply-demand balance.
IEA member countries use very different energy mixes to meet their needs, as illustrated in the chart below. Most countries still have a substantial share of oil in their energy mixes. As oil is expected to remain a major component of global energy demand for the time being, particularly in the transportation sector, maintaining the IEA emergency response capability will continue to remain essential to ensure security of supply.
Each IEA member country is obliged to maintain a set of regulations and/or policies that provide a framework for emergency oil stockholding and data reporting, and that facilitate timely participation in IEA collective actions in case of a severe oil supply disruption. In order to ensure that each country is sufficiently prepared for emergencies and can effectively contribute in case of collective action, the IEA conducts peer reviews (Emergency Response Review (ERR)) of its member countries on a regular basis. These reviews assess how member countries manage energy security challenges, promote emergency policy development, and support mutual learning through the proactive exchange of best practices. Emergency response policies of natural gas and electricity are also assessed and examined in these reviews. IEA Association and Key Partner countries may also be subject to such reviews upon their request.
Disruptions in energy systems have the potential to cause severe impacts, thereby limiting economic and societal development. As such, modern energy systems need to be able to withstand shocks from a wide range of sources, including natural disasters, geopolitical conflicts, and new and emerging threats related to the ongoing digitalisation of energy systems.
Promoting resilience through peer reviews
The IEA conducts peer reviews of its Member countries on a regular basis. Resilience of energy networks is a key focus of these reviews, as they help to ensure that members are able to react and adapt to changing conditions. This is done by assessing their ability to identify existing or emerging risks and offering policy recommendations where appropriate.
Weather and climate resilience
The energy sector faces multiple threats from climate change, in particular from extreme weather events and increasing stress on water resources. Greater resilience to climate change impacts will be essential to the technical viability of the energy sector and its ability to cost-effectively meet the rising energy demands driven by global economic and population growth.
The inter-dependencies between energy and water are set to intensify in the coming years. Water is essential for all phases of energy generation, from production of fossil fuels and biofuels to power plant operation. Managing energy-water linkages is and will continue to be pivotal to the prospects for successful realisation of a range of development and climate goals.
In 2017, the IEA turned its focus to the impact of digitalisation on the energy sector. Energy systems around the world are becoming more interconnected and intelligent. This expansion brings many opportunities, but also new challenges as suppliers and governments seek to ensure the security of these systems. To date, cyber-related disruptions to the energy sector have been relatively minor; however, cyber-attacks are becoming more common, and the issue will only become more important as greater volumes of data are exchanged or stored on servers and with the increasingly rapid development of connected devices.