Energy and climate
Geology, energy use and climate are closely interlinked. Geological knowledge and information can for example help us to locate different energy resources, and they can also provide evidence of past climate change.
Globally, fossil energy sources, with their impacts on climate, continue to dominate. In 2001 some 80 per cent of the world’s energy supplies came from fossil sources such as coal, oil and natural gas.
In Sweden, the situation in this regard is better, but our energy supply is still largely dependent on imported crude oil and oil products – despite the fact that this country is unusually well placed to produce energy sustainably and with less of an impact on climate.
Geology for sustainable energy
Knowledge and information about soils, bedrock and groundwater often have a crucial part to play in supporting the transition to an environmentally sound and sustainable energy supply system.
Greater use of biofuels, for example, requires in-depth knowledge of the production characteristics of forest and agricultural land. To harness offshore wind energy, we need a detailed understanding of the character of the seabed. Geological storage of carbon dioxide will only be possible with data on the sustainability and capacity of storage sites. And geothermal energy and small-scale ground source heating are yet further examples of areas in which basic geoscientific information is essential.
Traces of climate change
Lake and marine sediments, soils and bedrock preserve traces of the effects of past changes in climate. They provide valuable information that can help us to assess future climate trends. Peatlands and lake sediments offer a record of vegetation changes going back to the last ice age, while other soils allow us to track the courses of earlier glaciations and deglaciations.
Geological information for energy and climate policy
‘Energy and climate’ is a very wide-ranging field. To make things easier, we have broken it down into a number of different areas.
Under Renewable energy sources in Sweden you can find out more about biofuels, fuel peat, geothermal energy, ground source heating, wind energy and hydroelectric power – and how geological information can be used in these areas.
One way of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is to capture the carbon dioxide and store it in geological formations. Read more under the heading Storage of carbon dioxide.
Geological information is needed both to locate uranium, which is used as fuel in nuclear reactors, and as a basis for storing spent nuclear fuel. Read more under Uranium.
Sweden has only limited fossil energy resources, although alum shale, coal and crude oil have been extracted on a small scale. With modern environmental standards, large-scale extraction of these fossil sources of energy is unlikely ever to occur.
More information on how different types of geological information and expertise can be used to trace past climate change can be found under Climate.