Energy Sustainability of Countries

Energy Sustainability of Countries

Evangelos Grigoroudis (Technical University of Crete, Greece), Vassilis S. Kouikoglou (Technical University of Crete, Greece) and Yannis A. Phillis (Technical University of Crete, Greece)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8433-1.ch006


The provision of adequate, reliable, and affordable energy, in conformity with social and environmental requirements is a vital part of sustainable development. Currently, countries are facing a two-fold energy challenge: on the one hand they should assure the provision of environmentally sustainable energy, while, on the other, energy services should be reliable, affordable, and socially acceptable. To evaluate such aspects of energy services one needs energy sustainability barometers, which provide the means to monitor the impacts of energy policies and assist policymakers in relevant decision making. Although sustainability is an ambiguous, complex, and polymorphous concept, all energy sustainability barometers incorporate the three major sustainability dimensions: social, economic, and environmental. In this chapter, we review three models for assessing the sustainability of energy development of countries: ESI, SAFE, and EAPI. We also present a brief discussion of the results, the applied methodologies, and the underlying assumptions of these sustainability barometers.
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The Brundtland Report recognizes sustainable development as distinct from environmental protection, and suggests that economic development should be ecologically viable and that environmental protection does not preclude economic development. In this context, the report defines sustainable development as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (UNEP, 1987).

The provision of adequate, reliable, and affordable energy, in conformity with social and environmental requirements has been key to economic well-being. It is key for relieving poverty, improving human welfare and raising living standards. However, energy, despite its crucial role to development, is only a means to an end. The end is good health, high living standards, a sustainable economy, and a clean environment (see for example IAEA, 2005).

The overall energy production and use had been increased more than 50 times between 1850 and 2005, from a global total of approximately 0.2 billion tons of equivalent oil (toe) to 11.4 billion toe (IEA, 2007). Currently, non-renewable, carbon emitting fossil fuels provide approximately 80% of the global primary energy needs (IEA, 2007). At the same time, as noted in TWAS (2008), a large fraction of the world’s population still lacks access to one or several types of basic energy services, including electricity, clean cooking fuels and adequate means of transportation. Also, global demand for primary energy is expected to rise by between 27% and 61% by 2050 (WEC, 2013). Thus, both developed and developing countries face a two-fold energy challenge. On the one hand, countries should assure the provision of environmentally sustainable energy, and, on the other, energy services should be reliable, affordable, and socially acceptable. The present overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable primarily because it destroys the climate.

One of the most important efforts towards assessing energy sustainability is the interagency program led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in cooperation with various other international organizations, including the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), and a few member states of the IAEA. The aim of the program is to eliminate duplication and provide users with a single set of energy indicators applicable in every country. The proposed framework consists of three main sustainability dimensions, social, economic, and environmental, which are further classified into 7 themes and 19 sub-themes (Figure 1). Although a set of 30 indicators is proposed in the IAEA report, it is emphasized that no set of energy indicators can be final and definitive, since they should evolve over time to fit country-specific conditions, priorities and capabilities (IAEA, 2005).

Figure 1.

Framework for energy indicators of sustainable development


Key Terms in this Chapter

Energy Sustainability Index (ESI): An index that ranks countries according to their ability to provide stable, affordable and environmentally-friendly energy.

Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI): An index similar to ESI using somewhat different indicators.

Fuzzy Logic: A type of mathematical logic that handles incomplete knowledge and inexact data via propositions that are true with varying degrees, ranging from totally true to totally false.

Energy Security: It evaluates the reliability of a given energy infrastructure and its ability to meet demand.

Energy Equity: It evaluates the accessibility and affordability of energy within a country or region.

Sustainability Indicators: Variables related to and used in the assessment of sustainability. They are measured numerically or linguistically.

Sustainability Assessment by Fuzzy Evaluation (SAFE): A model that numerically assesses the sustainability of a country, region, corporation or other entity using fuzzy logic.

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