Energy for the 4th industrial revolutionThe energy market in the 1970s had a series of turbulences. Two oil shocks hit the global economy. As the “peak oil” theory that proposed a decrease in global oil production spread, fear over exhaustion of oil reserves grew. However, while everyone debated the supply and demand of oil, one argued that the limitedness of oil reserve was not important. It was Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Oil. “The Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the Oil Age will end long before the world runs out of oil.” He proposed that the world should pay attention to technology development rather than supply and demand.
In fact, in the global energy market, gas and nuclear energy are increasingly replacing oil and coal, and lately, expectations for renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are growing. When the age of electric cars opens fully, oil would give the “throne” of energy market to electricity and focus on the role of base material for petrochemical industry.
Moreover, gas’s role in power generation is growing as an environmentally friendly alternative to coal, as it emits less CO2 and fine dust. The gas supply crisis as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the surge of gas demand following suspension of nuclear power plant operation in Japan led to concerns over a stable gas supply.
Countries have specific plans for the future to secure stable supply of gas. The United States actively develop shale gas, and China, which is highly dependent on coal, is working hard to develop overseas gas fields in the CIS and Africa. Korean companies are actively developing vast marine gas fields in Mozambique in Southeast Africa. Coral Project, on which Korea Gas and Italy’s Eni invested and Korea Trade Insurance Corporation and Korea Export-Import Bank offer financial support, is an extensive project that will produce more than 3 million tons of LNG annually.
In the past, overseas resources development incurred great losses, but securing energy sources and improving competitiveness of energy industry is key task that will determine the future of the national economy. As the prices of resources decline, we can prepare for the future with long-term investment ideas and seek possibilities of importing new export industries to lead the fourth industrial revolution by integrating new energy technologies, IoT and artificial intelligence.
*CEO of the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation