The convergence that has transformed the telecommunications and media sectors for decades is also underway in the energy and renewable industries. I worked with a former Department of Homeland Security policy expert. Adam Stahl Review green energy and geopolitics. An advisor to the private green energy sector, Stahl has held various US government policy roles and studied global affairs at Oxford. Here are the highlights:
Digitization of the energy sector either strengthens or weakens the country.
The growing demand for cleaner and more efficient fuel sources has fundamentally changed the geopolitics of energy suppliers and consumers. The technologies that govern the generation, distribution and transmission of energy are becoming more powerful and integrated. However, this digitization expands the surface attack surface for both state actors and cybercriminals. Renewable and traditional energy industry control systems, such as pipeline distribution management, solar or wind power generation, and bulk power systems, all become increasingly internet-enabled, presenting greater cybersecurity risks in both scope and scale.
Malicious actors in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia can now probe, disrupt, and inflict significant damage to critical energy infrastructure with the click of a button. Ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline systems are just the beginning. The incident disrupted major gas and jet fuel distribution arteries across 17 states.
Policy efforts to accelerate renewable energy gain state power for both democratic and authoritarian regimes. Just as the US predicted soft power over the Internet, China is looking to promote green R&D, resource extraction and chemical processes to achieve its global goals.
There are pros and cons to the global economy and energy interdependence.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has heightened geopolitical tensions. The weaponization of Russia’s energy supply has caused prices to soar. People, governments and businesses in the democratic world have come together to condemn Russian aggression. More than 1000 companies have gone out of business in Russia, but notable Chinese companies such as Huawei and Lenovo remain.
Businesses and countries are now aware of technological vulnerabilities associated with critical infrastructure. Attacks by cybercriminal groups linked to Moscow on the rise continuity And killnet Target, disrupt and expose weaknesses in US and European energy infrastructure, including public utility commissions, wind turbines and LNG facilities.
Like Russia, China can use its energy resources for coercion.
Beijing, like Moscow, has both the economic leverage and sophistication to degrade and disrupt critical infrastructure, a blueprint that China can replicate in Taiwan. Beijing and Moscow have different styles of projecting power, but both countries have “chokeholds” that undermine Western interests in the energy sector. Putin’s cut off energy supplies to curb aid to Ukraine is just one example of a coercive diplomatic tool. China may be short on oil, but it has dominated the green energy manufacturing market, especially solar panel and EV battery production. More than 60% of solar panels and almost all rare earth minerals in electric batteries are processed in China. Of the 129 lithium-ion battery plants to be built by 2029, 100 will be located in China.
Corporate supply chains are national security, a fact revealed by COVID-19.
The supply chain covers everything. They unify device reliability, deployment elasticity, and production integrity at multiple layers. The global event increases the importance of supply chain security to high-level decision-making in the public and private sectors. These changes may be due to the need to redress China’s long-standing global economic manipulation and blatant control over manufacturing. The company produces about 60% of the world’s solar panel supply by forced labor and more than 90% of the rare earth minerals needed for advanced batteries, including lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel. Washington and Beijing are racing to incorporate the limited available raw materials needed to meet demand for e-vehicles, which could grow to 300 million by 2040, up 60,000% from 2018.
The energy sector is not immune to these pressures given counterfeit production and cyber espionage in both carbon and renewable industries. Examples include energy innovation trade secret theft, pipeline technology, wind turbine design and specialized software.
New U.S. Protection Laws for Semiconductors (with News) upcoming restrictions About the Chinese military fab YMTC that will help Apple reconsider defective transaction), textiles, and other important inputs are welcome, but adversaries have exploited the slow and inconsistent response of US policymakers.
Adam Stahl is a national security expert who has served on the Senate Commerce and Foreign Affairs Committee and the Department of Homeland Security. A former Deputy Director of DHS’ Office of Strategy, Policy and Planning, he led DHS’ development of its China and Arctic strategy. He now works for an energy company. His article can be found here. Hill And RealClearPolicy.