European nations have been leading the way in terms of human prosperity and progress. So, I wasn’t surprised to see them near the top of the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Index, which assesses a country’s ability to provide sustainable energy. Here we take a look at the top 10 countries with the most sustainable energy systems, based on the WEC’s 2019 Energy Trilemma Index.
Ranking countries with the most sustainable energy systems
The World Energy Council measureed sustainability of a country’s energy systems on three dimensions: Energy security, energy equity (affordability and accessibility), and environmental sustainability. Then they ranked countries based on the Trilemma score, and assigned a Balance grade to show how well a country manages the trade-offs in three dimensions.
The first letter in the Balance grade represents energy security, the second one represents energy equity, and the third letter represents environmental sustainability.
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As expected, most European nations have done well in all three aspects. They are reducing their carbon emissions by rapidly embracing solar, wind, and geothermal energy. On the other hand, tens of millions of people in developing nations of Asia and Africa still lack access the electricity.
These countries have the most sustainable energy systems, according to WEC’s Energy Trilemma Index:
10- New Zealand
This is the only non-European country on the list. New Zealand scored an A-grade in all three dimensions, earning a Balance grade of AAA. Its overall Trilemma score is 79.4. New Zealand fares particularly well in terms of energy security, which reflects its ability to meet the current and future energy demands reliably.
With a Trilemma score of 79.4 and AAA Balance grade, Germany occupies the 9th spot. The European economic powerhouse ranks highly for energy security and environmental sustainability. Germany is a global leader in renewable energy. The country aims to produce 65% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Luxembourg is one of the world’s wealthiest and healthiest countries. It received a Balance grade of BAA and a Trilemma score of 80.4. Luxembourg ranked 1st in terms of energy equity and 8th worldwide for environmental sustainability. But it lags far behind other European countries in terms of energy security.
Austria is shifting rapidly towards renewable energy sources. The country scored 80.7 on the index and AAA on the Balance grade. Austria ranks highly in all three dimensions, with a strong performance in terms of environmental sustainability.
France has been at the forefront of the shift towards renewable energy, and the country appears to be living up to its commitment. According to the Energy Trilemma Index, France ranks fourth in terms of environmental sustainability. It has a Balance grade of AAA and the overall Trilemma score of 80.8.
The Nordic country received a Trilemma score of 81.1 and Balance grade of AAA. Finland relies on energy imports to meet its needs. But the country has been investing heavily in renewable energy such as hydro-power. It ranks third in terms of energy security, but lags in energy equity and environmental sustainability.
4- United Kingdom
The United Kingdom ranks near the top for environmental sustainability. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the UK has shown the “fastest transition” from carbon-based fuel to renewable energy. The country scored AAA on Balance grade and 81.5 on the Trilemma Index.
Denmark ranks second in the world for energy security and environmental sustainability, but has slipped to 40th place in terms of energy equity. The country generates more than half of its electricity from wind and solar power. It aims to become 100% fossil-fuel-free by 2050. Denmark scored 84.7 on Trilemma Index and AAA on Balance grade.
Sweden aims to produce 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2040. The country has been investing heavily in smart grids, clean transport, energy storage, wind power, and solar energy. Sweden ranked 1st for energy security and 3rd for environmental sustainability. The one aspect where it lags behind is energy equity. Sweden scored 85.2 on the Trilemma Index and AAA Balance grade.
Switzerland has the most sustainable energy systems in the world with a Trilemma score of 85.8. It ranks first for environmental sustainability, and 11th for both energy security and energy equity. The country received AAA Balance grade. Switzerland has been investing heavily to decarbonize its electricity generation.