Conceptualizing energy security

SEFEP staff: Antonella Battaglini, June 2012

Energy security is a term that is widely used, and one that is highly ambiguous. A recent series of articles has risen to the challenge of conceptualising it, and suggests that energy security may have up to 20 dimensions, which are to be assessed by arrays of up to 372 indicators. However, such extremely broad conceptualisations threaten to divert focus from what is at the core of such an important concept, thus making it de-void in all its richness. In this paper, energy security, which in all respects is a policy matter, is conceptualised from the bottom up in a European policy perspective, by identifying the aims and concerns underlying actual energy security policy in the European Union, the UK and Sweden. In addition, possible indicators for a quantitative holistic assessment are proposed. Based on these measures and aims, the orthogonal dimensions of energy security as perceived by policy in the three cases are induced. The paper concludes that, from a European policy perspective, energy security is a multi-faceted but not multi-dimensional issue: two orthogonal dimensions could be identified, with a limited number of possible indicators needed for a holistic assessment of energy security.

This working paper can be downloaded here.

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