A new ranking of global energy and climate policies has placed Australia 110th in the world for development of renewable and low carbon energy sources and efficiency of supply – just after Benin and just before Trinidad and Tobago.
The World Energy Council’s annual ranking of energy and climate policies – the 2015 Energy Trilemma Index – rates the energy systems of countries across the world, based on how they are balancing the three key dimensions.
These are: energy security (a country’s ability to meet its current and predicted energy demand); energy equity (the accessibility and affordability of energy across the population); and environmental sustainability (the achievement of supply and demand-side energy efficiencies and the development of energy supply from renewable and other low-carbon sources.).
It is in the final category – environmental sustainability – that Australia ranks 110th. As you can see in the table below, it does better in the other two categories, ranking 6th and 14th for energy security and energy equity, respectively. Those high rankings are due to its abundant coal and gas resources, and its widespread grid.
This puts Australia’s overall ranking on the 2015 Energy Trilemma Index at 17, just ahead of Colombia.
As you can see in the below chart, this is a downgrade on Australia’s position last year, and in 2013, suggesting a downward trend in two key energy policy areas, including renewable energy development and grid efficiency, at a time when so many other developed nations are heading in the opposite direction.
So much so, this year’s index includes a “watch list”, created for countries “in the process of transitioning their energy systems, or where recent or unscheduled events that are not yet reflected in the data may lead to a change in their performance in the near future.”
Countries currently on the World Energy Council’s watch list include Germany, Japan, Italy, Mexico, the UAE, the UK. The US and South Africa are newcomers to the WEC’s “negative watch list” – South Africa due to its electricity crisis, and the US due to lack of investment in ageing infrastructure and exposure to extreme weather events.
Countries topping this year’s index, meanwhile, are Switzerland and Sweden, with triple ‘A’ scores. The UK, while still in the top 10, lost its ‘A’ grading for energy equity, moving it to ‘AAB’ status.
According to the WEC, the UK downgrade reflects the challenges countries are facing in balancing the trade-offs of the trilemma goals and financing the transformation of their energy systems.
“Our research underlines how priorities vary from country to country – though energy security is key for all,” said World Energy Trilemma executive chair, Joan MacNaughton.
“And the report highlights a real issue for the 21st Conference of the Parties due to begin later this month in Paris, namely translating the Intended National Determined Contributions from international objectives into national level actions for energy.
“The investment required is huge, and driving it to the right places will require a balanced approach if countries are to meet the three goals of the trilemma,” she said.
“For countries to move up in the rankings and remain ahead of the pack, they must adopt prudent, forward-looking energy policies to meet decarbonisation goals and maintain competitiveness. This report provides a map for the long road from Paris to help policymakers and businesses chart a sustainable course.”