World Energy Trilemma

Project Partner: Oliver Wyman

The World Energy Council’s definition of energy sustainability is based on three core dimensions – energy security, energy equity, and environmental sustainability. These three goals constitute a ‘trilemma’, entailing complex interwoven links between public and private actors, governments and regulators, economic and social factors, national resources, environmental concerns, and individual behaviours.

Delivering policies which simultaneously address energy security, universal access to affordable energy services, and environmentally sensitive production and use of energy is one of the most formidable challenges facing government and industry. The ‘Energy Trilemma’ provides a clear framework to deliver the energy transformation and make sustainable energy systems a reality.

“Since the Paris Agreement last year on action to fight climate change, virtually every country in the world is now conscious of the need to meet the challenge of the Energy Trilemma: providing households with supplies of energy that are accessible, reliable and affordable, and delivering energy to businesses at competitive prices, while at the same time ensuring that we generate and use energy in a way that protects the environment”

Sir Philip Lowe, Executive Chair, Energy Trilemma, World Energy Council

The latest report ‘World Energy Trilemma Index 2017 : Monitoring the Sustainability of National Energy Systems’, has been developed through interviews with policymakers and private sector energy leaders, analyses of five years of the Energy Trilemma findings, and associated wide assessment of energy strategies. It identifies five focus areas that can drive progress on the energy trilemma and offers guidance in the complex task of translating the trilemma goals of security, equity and sustainability into tangible actions that can help to ensure an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all.

With unclear, unstable policies being considered as one of the biggest risks to developing more sustainable energy systems, the World Energy Trilemma work programme supports an evolving dialogue to develop knowledge and understanding of effective strategies and policies, and thus to deliver the necessary transformation of the energy system.

Energy Trilemma Index

As part of the World Energy Trilemma process, the World Energy Council has developed an Energy Trilemma Index that captures and aggregates country-level data to outline the relative energy performances and contextual attributes of almost 125 countries. It provides a comparative ranking of countries’ abilities to provide a stable, affordable, and environmentally sensitive energy system, while highlighting current challenges. The findings of the Index analysis are complemented with individual World Energy Council member country profiles.

Energy Trilemma Index Tool

The World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Index tool, produced in partnership with Oliver Wyman, ranks countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy through 3 dimensions: Energy security, Energy equity (accessibility and affordability), Environmental sustainability. The ranking measures overall performance in achieving a sustainable mix of policies and the balance score highlights how well a country manages the trade-offs of the Trilemma with “A” being the best. Use this interactive Index to assess the sustainability of national energy policies.

Explore the Pathway Calculator to determine what it takes to improve your ranking and understand the impact of policymaking in achieving a sustainable energy future.


The World Energy Council conducts the overall project in partnership with the global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Sir Philip Lowe, Chair of the World Energy Trilemma Study Group

Sir Philip Lowe is the Executive Chair of the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma flagship study.

Philip Lowe was born in Leeds in 1947. He read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St John’s College, Oxford and has an M.Sc. from London Business School. Following a period in manufacturing industry, he joined the European Commission in 1973, and held a range of senior posts as Chef de Cabinet and Director in the fields of regional development, agriculture, transport and administration, before becoming Director-General of the Development DG in 1997. From September 2002 he was Director-General of the Competition DG until he became Director-General of the Energy DG in February 2010.

He retired from the European Commission from 1st January 2014. From 2013 to 2016, he was a non-executive director of the UK Competition and Markets Authority and since 2016, Executive Chair of the World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Flagship Study Programme.

From 2010, he has been Chair of the Florence University Institute Competition Law Workshop. He is also a senior adviser to FTI Consulting. Philip Lowe was knighted KCMG in 2014.

For further information, contact our Trilemma Team.

Email Trilemma Team