National gains being made in Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy

Date: 7 May 2018

While global trends towards realising the Sustainable Development Goal 7 are disappointing, recent national experiences around the world offer encouraging signs – particularly in terms of the expansion of access to electricity in least developed countries and industrial energy efficiency.

The report TrackingSDG7: The Energy Progress Report was launched at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum this week in Lisbon. One of the 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 7 calls for “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” by 2030. According to the report, the world is falling behind in its progress towards realising the global energy targets for 2030. However, real progress is being made in specific areas and there is mounting evidence that with the right approaches and policies, countries can make substantial gains in terms of securing clean energy and energy access, which will improve the lives of millions of people.

Renewable energy used for electricity is increasing
As of 2015, the world obtained 17.5 percent of its total final energy consumption from renewable sources, of which 9.6 percent represents modern forms of renewable energy such as geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. The remainder is traditional uses of biomass (such as wood used as a fuel source and charcoal).

Some of the countries with the largest progress in terms of renewable energy are China, the UK and Brazil. China’s progress in renewable energy from 2010 to 2015 alone accounted for nearly 30 percent of absolute growth in renewable energy consumption globally, while the UK’s share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption grew by 1 percent annually on average since 2010, which is more than five times the global average.

Globally, renewable energy is making impressive gains in the electricity sector worldwide. These are, however, not being matched in terms of transportation and heating, which together account for 80 percent of global energy consumption. According to the report, Brazil was the only country among the top 20 largest energy consumers to substantially exceed the global average renewable share in all end uses: electricity, transport and heating.

In Denmark, renewable energy is also used for all end uses, but especially for electricity and heating. From 2010 to 2015, renewable energy increased from 21.35 percent to 33.17 percent. In 2015, 9.87 percent of the renewable energy came from wind.

Energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions are an ingrained part of the Danish DNA
While many countries have opted for individual, on-site heating and cooling solutions, Denmark decided to focus on collective heating systems after the oil crisis of the 1970s. Today, 64 percent of all Danish households are supplied by district heating, contributing to making Denmark one of the most energy-efficient countries in the world.

Additionally, district heating and cooling is able to utilise all energy sources, including renewables, which allows a flexible and eco-friendly production. In fact, 55 percent of the Danish district heating is based on renewable energy.

Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report is a joint effort of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Source: State of Green