World Energy Trilemma
Time to get real – the case for sustainable energy policy
Policymakers and the energy industry urgently need to work together to sustainable energy systems a reality.
To assist policymakers and the energy industry with pressing forward sustainable energy systems,
the World Energy Council, in collaboration with Oliver Wyman, has prepared the report "World Energy Trilemma:
Time to get real – the case for sustainable energy policy." This first of a two-part series of reports
examines the drivers and risks preventing the development of sustainable energy systems. It then
recommends actions to address these risks and to accelerate a global transition to a low-carbon future
which will present new opportunities for economic growth.
The 2012 report describes what senior energy industry executives believe they need from
policymakers to advance sustainable energy systems. It is based on interviews with more than
40 energy industry CEOs and senior executives and the 2012 World Energy Council/Oliver Wyman Energy Sustainability Index built on an analysis of 22 indicators across 93 World Energy Council member countries. The 2013 World Energy Trilemma report will focus on what policymakers need from the energy industry.
All of these reports will be discussed at a World Energy Congress hosted by the World Energy Council in October 2013.
The World Energy Council/Oliver Wyman Energy Sustainability Index
A ranking of the world’s energy systems based on their ability to provide sustainable energy
The World Energy Council/Oliver Wyman Energy Sustainability Index analyzes the extent to which countries’ energy systems are affordable, secure, and environmentally sound in an effort to assist policy makers, and the energy industry, to weigh trade-offs when making critical energy decisions that have a huge impact on economies and the environment. It is based on an analysis of 60 data sets from sources such as the United Nations and the International Energy Agency. These datasets are available for all of the 93 countries that members of the World Energy Council. The index below summarizes this year’s results.
2012 energy Sustainability Index
Review details on all 94 countries profiled in our annual sustainability study.
We have to make hard choices in this generation to bring about real changes for future generations and the planet. Politicians and the industry must get real.
Team Leader Q&A
for Mark Robson
for Mark Robson
Why do policymakers and the energy industry need to get serious about making sustainable energy systems a reality?
Sustainable energy systems are crucial for global prosperity. If the supply of sustainable energy continues to lag
behind rapidly rising demand globally, billions of people could be forced to live without reliable electricity and economic growth will suffer. And energy infrastructure takes a long time to build. Today’s energy policy and business decisions will affect countries not just today, but for the next 50 years.
Why is it so difficult to achieve sustainable energy systems?
The biggest challenge is balancing what we call the World Energy Trilemma. This Trilemma refers to the fact that a sustainable energy system needs to provide secure, affordable, and environmentally-sound energy. But there are trade-offs involved in achieving each of these elements. This requires policymakers and the energy industry to make very hard choices to balance the shifting priorities related to industry capabilities, environmental concerns, and economic growth. To date, no country has managed to be a leader in balancing all three of these dimensions.
How will the World Energy Trilemma report assist policymakers and the energy industry in achieving this goal?
We want the World Energy Trilemma report to be a platform for discussing secure, affordable, and environmentally-sound energy through a robust and focused dialogue. Our report focuses on what senior energy industry executives believe they need from policymakers to make sustainable energy systems a reality. The Energy Sustainability index ranks countries based on their ability to provide sustainable energy and provides analysis that helps policy makers, and the energy industry, weigh trade-offs when making critical energy decisions.
What have been the biggest lessons from the index results?
The first lesson is that energy policy matters. Natural resources do not determine if a country can develop a sustainable energy system. Only three of the top 10 performing countries in the index are actually energy exporters. The others are energy importers. The second lesson is that, more than ever, countries need diversified sources of energy. Within the next decade, the global balance of power for many different forms of energy will shift dramatically. Those countries with diversified energy sources will be the world's energy leaders.
Which countries ranked highest on the index this year?
The top-ranked countries in this year's Energy Sustainability Index are Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada. All three have very secure energy systems because of the diversity of their energy supplies, which include low-carbon energy sources, such as hydro power and nuclear power. As a result, in Sweden, for example, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by approximately 10 per cent since 1990 even though its GDP has increased by more than 50 per cent.
All three of these countries have also made sustainable energy a high priority. They have long-standing environmental policies that focus on energy efficiency and on increasing the share of renewables in their energy mix.