World Energy Trilemma Index

Index 2016: Benchmarking the sustainability of national energy systems

The Report was launched by World Energy Council in partnership with Oliver Wyman at a Press Conference on 11 October 2016 at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul. It will also be discussed the following day at a Ministerial Roundtable, moderated by Joan Mac Naughton, the Executive Chair of the World Energy Trilemma.

The World Energy Council’s definition of energy sustainability is based on three core dimensions (1) energy security, (2) energy equity and (3) environmental sustainability. Balancing these three goals constitutes a ‘trilemma’ and is the basis of prosperity and the competitiveness of individual countries. 

Regional Overview

2016 index inforgraphic

The Energy Trilemma Index quantifies the trilemma and comparatively ranks 125 countries’ energy performance. It provides policymakers and energy leaders with comprehensive regional analyses and country profiles with detailed breakdowns of energy trilemma performance and energy sector data, as well as trends and outlook for the country’s energy sector.

The analysis is based on a carefully curated yet comprehensive set of 35 indicators. This year’s index has been compiled using a revised methodology which allows for an even greater degree of sophistication in assessing a country’s energy sector performance.

An analysis of selected key indicators shows that globally, there seems to be a positive trend underway in all three trilemma dimensions: an increase in access to electricity and clean cooking by 5% to 85% and 74% respectively since 2000 point towards progress made in the energy equity dimension. At the same time, the fact that renewables now make up 9.7% of global total primary energy consumption is a positive signal for both the energy security and environmental sustainability dimensions. However, a predicted rise in energy consumption by up to 46% by 2060 will put a strain on all three trilemma dimensions and emphasises the importance of timely action to move towards energy sustainability.

Top Performers

This year Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden top the Index, with Demark also achieving the highest score for energy security. While not in the top 10 overall, Luxembourg maintains its position for most equitable (affordable and accessible) and the Philippines is leading the way on the environmental sustainability dimension. In Latin America, Uruguay ranks the highest, whilst in the Middle East, Israel outperforms its regional peers. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Mauritius performs best, while in Asia, New Zealand remains at the top of the regional leader board.


The World Energy Council recognises that countries situated in different parts of the world will face significantly different challenges in trying to balance their energy trilemma performance. Therefore, the 2016 Index puts a special emphasis on regional profiles.

  • North America is currently focusing on improving and building resilience of its ageing infrastructure.
  • Europe, meanwhile, is still working on managing its energy transition to meet both its international and domestic climate change commitments. This will involve sophisticated domestic energy market design, strengthening regional energy markets, and designing an effective carbon price.
  • The Latin American and Caribbean countries, going forward, will have to improve resilience of the renewable energy infrastructure by diversifying away from hydroelectric power, which is especially susceptible to extreme weather events.
  • Asia, faced with growing energy demand, must also diversify its energy sector and continue to pursue plans to invest in renewable energies and increase energy efficiency to reduce import dependence. Only by doing so can the sustainable growth of its highly energy-intensive emerging economies be facilitated.
  • The Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are working on slowly diversifying away from oil and gas, exploiting their great potential for solar power generation, and improving energy efficiency.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest challenge remains ensuring equity of access. To this effect, maintaining and improving existing infrastructure, as well as working with innovative off-grid technologies is key, along with attracting investment and increasing institutional capacity.

To enhance its utility to energy leaders, this year’s index is accompanied by the launch of a new online tool. The new Trilemma Tool will enable the user to readily access the country as well as regional profiles contained in the report.

What is more, the tool also features an interactive Pathway Calculator, which will enable users to change energy parameters and see how their country’s trilemma performance would evolve.

The tool can be accessed at www.worldenergy.org/data (as of 11th October)

For pictures of the Trilemma session and more sessions of the World Energy Congress please visit Flickr

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