The Energy Architecture Performance Index 2015:
The EAPI provides a window into the progress countries are making with energy transition, and nations performing well offer insights into best practice and different ways to manage the trade-offs between the dimensions of the energy triangle.
While the top 10 performers across the 2015 EAPI are all European and/or advanced economies – the exception is Colombia, which ranks 9th – their diverse energy systems demonstrate that there is no single transition pathway to a more affordable, sustainable and secure energy system (Figure 3). Instead, each country’s performance is shaped by specific policies and investments over time and also, of course, by natural resource endowment, geographic circumstances and other boundary constraints.
What these countries do have in common is that they score well on several dimensions of the index. Many of the top 10 countries have undertaken successful reforms in past years and decades, underlining the potential for improving performance for all countries. But no country is perfect; these top performing countries also show room for improvement.
With a score of 0.80, Switzerland tops the rankings for the EAPI 2015. Despite being dependent on energy imports, its energy system supports overall economic growth through low energy intensity (ranks 1st on this indicator), a diverse supply mix, and diversity of import counterparts. Switzerland also tops the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which assesses the competitiveness landscape of 144 economies, highlighting some of the links between energy system performance and competitiveness.
These top performers demonstrate how a balanced approach to energy policy across energy efficiency, renewable energy, and security of supply can pay dividends. Norway (2nd) has an energy system characterized by a vast resource endowment, considerable energy export revenues, and a focus on developing renewable energies. With a score of 0.96 for energy access and security, it ranks first on this sub-index and highlights the extent to which its energy sector is safe from supply disruptions globally. Denmark (7th) aims to become independent of fossil fuel consumption by 2050. This is being pursued through renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change mitigation policies. Sweden (6th) has a high share of low carbon fuels in its energy mix, and has further increased its focus on renewable energy. This is reflected in strong performance across environmental sustainability, and energy access and security. However, it scores lower on the dimension of economic growth, with the lowest score (0.59) for this side of the energy triangle across top performers.
Many of these high performers have effectively implemented reforms in past years and decades, underlining the potential for all countries to improve performance. In Portugal (10th), the restructuring and privatization of former state energy utilities has created a grid better suited to the intermittency of renewable energy sources. Austria (8th) has been praised by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for the extent of its public funding dedicated to energy research, development and demonstration, which has tripled since 2007.13 As the sole emerging economy in the list of top performers, Colombia (9th) achieves high scores on energy access and security (0.84) and economic growth and development (0.75). While a direct link between energy reforms implemented in 2003 cannot be inferred, these policies have undoubtedly supported aspects of this performance on the EAPI.
Despite their high performance, these countries also face evolving challenges. Spain’s performance (5th) is based on the high diversity of its fuel mix and import counterparts (4th for this indicator), as well as fuel efficiency (1st for this indicator). However, government support for renewables through subsidies has led to an “electricity deficit” – the difference between the sum paid by utilities to power generators and the amount utilities gain from customers – which the government is now tackling.14 France (3rd), the highest performer among EU countries, achieves high scores across environmental sustainability and energy access and security (0.81 and 0.88 respectively). This is largely explained by the dominance of nuclear in its fuel mix; the government is now targeting this reliance through proposals to invest heavily in renewables. This could reduce the share of nuclear in electricity generation from 73.7% to 50%, with proposals to shut down 25 of its plants.15