Sustainable energy important as nations seek to responsibly bolster energy production
The World Energy Council, based out of London, has released the latest edition of its Energy Sustainability Index. One of the key surprises for those interested in the role the US plays in the worldwide energy sector is the fact that the US ranked lower than Canada in overall sustainable energy metrics. Washington has been urging its neighbors to the north to more effectively curb greenhouse gases for years, and has continued to pressure Canada to increase the production of energy through clean sources – and to reduce reliance on non-renewable or dirty energy sources. The fact that the US actually ranked lower than Canada in the Energy Sustainability Index report is a stark reminder that a lot can be accomplished in a short time when a nation focuses on an important initiative.
Sustainable energy will help to responsibly provide power to Americans for generations
The sustainability index, as tabulated by the World Energy Council, incorporates these three key energy measures:
- Energy security – this refers to the level of security of a nation’s energy supply. For example, if a county imports 100% of its oil from a volatile nation, that would be an example of poor energy security. Those who produce 100% of their own energy would have better energy security ratings. Other things to consider are the likelihood or vulnerability to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or an aging or inefficient infrastructure. Any of these issues could lead to a disruption in energy supply. It is also important to note the amount of energy that is required each day by the nation in question, and to calculate how long the strategic reserve would last if an interruption in oil supply occurred.
- Energy equity – This rating takes into account the supply of energy for a particular nation and factors in an affordability and accessibility rating. For example, if two identical nations both produced and consumed the same amount of energy, but one of the two nations was able to extract natural resources at a cheaper rate, that country would have a more favorable equity rating. Countries that employ technologically advanced processes in which to harness energy may see a better equity rating. The US is incredibly well positioned in this area.
- Environmental sustainability – This is an area that is vitally important to energy consumers of all ages. The sustainability factor refers to the ability of a nation to extract or generate energy with as minimal an impact as possible. Sustainability also means being able to use energy at a rate that ensures that current use doesn’t outpace future supplies. Canada has some work to do here, but at rank ‘60’ it still outpaces the US (rank ’86’).
The World Energy Council findings are enlightening in that the US has been making some gains recently. The energy security rating of ‘12’ and the equity rating of ‘1’ are incredibly promising. The environmental sustainability rank of ‘86’ is concerning – and should be the area of focus for US energy companies and policymakers going forward.