Denmark tops World Energy Council index but UK and US on watchlist

Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden have topped the list of a World Energy Council index that ranks countries on their energy security, equity and sustainability.

But the UK, Germany and the US have been flagged on a negative watchlist of nations that face imminent challenges in tackling their low carbon energy transformation.

The Energy Trilemma Index report was launched today during the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul.

The index ranks 125 countries in their overall performance in achieving a sustainable mix of policies against the three factors of energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability.

The full top ten countries are Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Norway, Finland, New Zealand and Austria.

The World Energy Council (WEC) says the fact that nine out of the ten are European shows that “co-operation on long-term policy for energy and climate can contribute to regional success even though Europe still has to manage its energy transition focusing on new market designs, demand management and establish an effective carbon price”.

WEC notes that the Asian region “overall faces the challenge of fast increasing energy demand and highly energy intensive future. Lessening the dependence from energy imports through reliable infrastructure and trade relationships and by increasing the use of renewable energy sources could put the region on a pathway to sustainable energy.”

In the Middle East and North Africa, the report finds that “countries are facing a real diversification and reduction of energy intensity challenge in order to improve their lower environmental performance”. The UAE leads the region with its diversification efforts positioning the country on the index’s ‘positive watch’ list.

In Latin America, WEC states that “policies need to focus on system’s resilience to extreme weather events and improving energy equity, building on the example of Uruguay, which ranks the highest in the region after operating a successful energy transition”.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius (49), Gabon (67) and South Africa (84) form the top three of a region that still register lowest levels of energy access despite being rich in resources and having a high renewables potential. “Facing a growing energy demand means the region must attract investment, build institutional capacity and improve its grid and off-grid energy supply,” the report concludes.

Joan MacNaughton, executive chair of the World Energy Trilemma report, said: “Energy access and climate change have never been so high on the agenda as now, following the COP 21 Paris Agreement, the UN Sustainable Energy Goals, and the attention accorded these issues by the G20.

“This shift in energy priorities is bringing greater diversity to the global energy mix, helping to underpin security of supply while increasing sustainability. Together with the increase in access to modern energy services, this demonstrates how, overall, energy policies are leading to a more sustainable energy world.”

The UK has dropped out of the top ten, and MacNaughton said: “Challenges in terms of improving affordability and delivering security of supply as North Sea assets deplete, coupled with the rundown of worn-out legacy infrastructure including coal-fired generation, has left the UK with a potential energy gap.”

“Renewables are increasing as a percentage of the UK energy mix but their output is not yet at a level where energy security can be guaranteed.”

Click here to download the report

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