These are ambitious goals. But few, if any, countries have figured out how to establish the policies and regulations that will foster truly sustainable energy systems that can provide the secure, affordable, and sustainable energy that these goals will require.
Research conducted by the World Energy Council with Oliver Wyman shows that most countries focus on just one of the three dimensions of an energy trilemma that exists at the heart of sustainable energy systems. Nearly half (59) of 129 countries ranked by the World Energy Council/Oliver Wyman Energy Sustainability Index are within the top 25 countries of the world on one dimension, indicating the degree to which their energy is either secure, affordable, or environmentally sustainable. But only 14 countries perform strongly across two of these dimensions. Only five are leaders across all three.
Policymakers face a challenge in trying to form policies that will improve their countries’ performance across all three of these dimensions, especially since no form of energy is strong on all three. Fossil fuels continue to beat renewable forms of energy in terms of both affordability and reliability. Solar and wind power are much cleaner, but still operate intermittently and continue to be more expensive than conventional energy.