Brief Description of the Project
Though considerable effort has been dedicated by the United Nations and other energy and environmental groups to the development of composite indicators of transportation productivity, environmental quality, and industrial efficiency, there are no standard composite metrics to evaluate energy security. To help fill this gap, research has already been conducted at the Centre assessing how energy security might be measured and benchmarked for the United States and Europe. For that project, researchers have proposed that energy security is comprised of four dimensions, taken together, that cover a wide range of definitions and allow us to break the concept down into measurable components. These components can then be used to construct a quantifiable index: availability, affordability, efficiency, and environmental stewardship. Availability refers to the security of fuel supplies. It entails diversifying the fuels used to provide energy services as well as the location of facilities using those fuels, promoting energy systems that can recover quickly from attack or disruption, and minimizing dependence on foreign suppliers. Affordability refers to providing energy services that are affordable for consumers and minimizing price volatility. Energy efficiency includes improving the performance of energy equipment and altering consumer attitudes. Environmental stewardship includes protecting the natural environment and future generations.
The study has correlated each of these four areas of energy security with rough metrics. A country’s dependence on oil, dependence on natural gas, and the mix of renewable resources in the country’s energy portfolio are used to roughly assess the availability of fuel. Nominal retail residential electricity prices, the cost of a kilogram of fuel-wood (for those who lack access to electricity), and gasoline/petrol prices are used to assess the affordability of energy. Energy intensity (the amount of energy needed to produce one unit of Gross Domestic Product), on-road fuel economy for passenger vehicles, and energy research and development intensity (amount of energy R&D compared to all R&D expenditures) are used to assess energy efficiency. Total greenhouse gas missions, per capita carbon dioxide emissions, and the percent of the population with access to electricity are used to determine environmental stewardship.
However, this work is just a first step – a significant advance over other studies that have looked at a far narrower range of indicators, but still far from a finished product. The metrics were of necessity chosen from available data, and may not measure the most important things. Moreover, conditions in Asia differ in several ways from those in Europe and North America. Thus, it would not be appropriate simply to extend the existing study to cover Asian countries. Instead, the Centre will conduct more comprehensive investigation including in-depth examination of techniques for energy data collection and analysis, exhaustive review of the literature on concepts of energy security, with analysis of applications to Asia, data collection, and preparation of a preliminary Asian Energy Security Index.