WEC grades countries on energy-sustainability balance

Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden top a three-dimensional ranking of energy sustainability in a new World Energy Council assessment.

The Energy Sustainability Index assess and ranks 129 countries in each of three dimensions: energy security (including management of supply, reliability of infrastructure, and the ability to meet current and future demand), energy equity (accessibility and affordability across the population), and environmental sustainability (achievement of supply and demand efficiencies and development from renewable and other low-carbon sources).

Countries’ rankings in the individual dimensions were aggregated to produce balance scores for the overall ranking. Behind the top there are, in order, Austria, the UK, Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, and France (No. 10).

The US was No. 15. Zimbabwe scored lowest.

WEC worked with the Oliver Wyman consultancy on the study, analyzing 60 data sets to develop 23 indicators. It said the balance score used in the final ranking “highlights how well a country manages the tradeoffs between each of the dimensions.”

Public-sector views

WEC published the index as part of a report describing what public-sector officials believe they need from the energy industry. It interviewed more than 50 energy and environmental ministers, policy-makers, government officials, representatives of multilateral development banks, international nongovernmental organizations, and experts from more than 25 countries.

It said public-sector interviewees “broadly agreed” with goals identified in a 2012 study based on interviews of energy-industry executives: define a coherent and predictable energy policy, implement stable regulatory and legal frameworks to support long-term investments, and encourage public and private initiatives that enable innovation and foster research, development, and demonstration.

WEC said the “public stakeholders” in this year’s study voiced concerns “about how the lack of a global agreement on the target profile of a future energy system is exacerbating policy challenges at the national level.”

The stakeholders, it said, “called on the energy industry to adopt and help promote a long-term energy vision and share information knowledge on implications, realistic targets, and potential alternative approaches to overcome these hurdles and achieve the goals set.”

Among other recommendations to the energy industry in the 2013 study:

• Be more proactive in improving energy policies.

• Advance the alignment of risk (to help cash-strapped governments meet energy-investment needs).

• Assist developing countries with “charting a new course.”

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