Affordable and clean energy

Affordable and clean energy

Technical Advisory Group Member, Neil Blundell, introduces SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy.


Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

UN SDG 7 addresses the key role of energy in enabling economic growth and development across the world. Guaranteeing energy access, particularly electricity, at affordable consumer prices with the lowest adverse environmental footprint is fundamental, especially in view of reaching climate neutrality.

Different technologies are currently under investigation and being upscaled to limit or reduce the impact of fossil fuels, both solid and liquid. These different technologies include renewable sources (eg biomass, solar, wind and hydro resources), carbon capture and CO2 utilisation, battery storage, and power to gas and power to liquid fuels. Changes in demand patterns derived from the decarbonisation of final energy uses, together with the widespread use of intermittent renewable sources, are predicted to significantly influence the design and operation of future energy systems.

Energy transition will continue to be one of the most challenging societal issues in the coming decades. Attention must be paid not only to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also to avoiding environmental trade-offs in terms of air pollution, loss of biodiversity, and competition for land usage. A global and fair transition will also need to take country circumstances into account and aim to not leave anyone behind.

The role of chemical engineers

Chemical engineers can play a significant role in achieving this global development goal and in the transition to net zero. Our expertise in process design, modelling, and optimisation is fundamental for the holistic evaluation of novel technologies, especially storage, CO2 capture, and CO2 utilisation routes. Most of these processes are at an early development stage and so there is a significant knowledge gap, both theoretical and practical, that our profession can help to fill.