SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

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

SDG7 targets the universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services. This includes substantially increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and improving energy efficiency.

Access to electricity is accelerating: the global electrification rate hit 89% in 2017. But this still leaves some 840 million people without access, with the energy deficit greatest in sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, those without access to clean cooking fuels and technologies number close to 3 billion.

Although growth in renewable energy has outstripped total energy consumption since 2012, faster change is needed to meet climate goals. Similarly, despite global primary energy intensity (the ratio of energy used per unit of GDP) falling from 5.9 in 2010 to 5.1 in 2016, it is not going fast enough to meet the goals of SDG7.

How the cement and concrete industry is making a positive difference

The provision of sustainable energy infrastructure is central to the sustainable transformation of communities, underpinning goals related to poverty reduction, healthcare, education, clean water and sanitation, gender equality, and climate change. And concrete has a key role to play. From geothermal projects and wind turbine foundations, to flywheels, concrete’s strength, durability, and resilience to climate-related and natural disasters make it as an essential building material for much energy-related construction, helping ensure communities have access to a reliable and secure energy supply (SDG7.1).

Meanwhile, concrete’s ability to absorb and store heat offer a number of advantages. It improves the energy efficiency (SDG7.3) of buildings through passive cooling, whereby heat is absorbed during the day and released at night, reducing the use of energy-intensive cooling systems, such as air conditioning. It could also make concrete an important energy storage solution in its own right, supporting the widespread adoption of renewable energy (SDG7.2) by helping to balance electricity grids.

At an operational level, cement companies are large-scale users of electricity. Through the latest digital technologies, companies are now able to more tightly control the process than ever before, significantly improving the industry’s energy efficiency (SDG7.3), thus reducing total required energy. Cement companies have also increased, by a factor of nine since 1990, the use of alternative fuels, preserving other energy sources. When combined with the increasing use of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, this has the potential to have an important positive impact on the carbon intensity of its products, helping the industry meet climate change goals.

Case Studies

Argos: Advancing the Conversation of CO2 into Fuel