Energy Equity | Energy Integration | Energy Resilience
Access to affordable and reliable energy is imperative for the overall well-being of any society irrespective how developed it is. Energy sustainability can be summarized as a measure of distribution, readiness and cost effectiveness of energy systems that impact all socioeconomic facets of human society (education, health, infrastructure, security, economy, and environment), and typically quantified by energy equity, integration, and resilience.
Outlined under goal number 7 within the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy emphasizes on the importance of energy sustainability for universal well-being of human society and the further development of the same. While energy is a basic commodity that is often taken for granted, nearly 13% of the world’s population still lack access to electricity (many still relying on unhealthy and unsafe energy sources e.g. kerosene, firewood and coal, used in heating and cooking), and another 29% have access electricity less than 10 hours per day (and usually not when they need it the most). Though this number is predominantly represented by communities in developing economies, energy inequality (often referred as to energy insecurity) and challenges associated with energy sustainability are unfortunately also present in some of the world’s most developed economies.
In developed economies, challenges associated with energy inequality are often observed in economically disadvantaged, minority and underserved communities that have historically been overlooked and excluded in urban planning of sustainable energy infrastructure. Limited or no access to energy efficient housing, sustainable and cost effective heating and cooling, as well as inadequate safeguards against natural disasters and extreme weather conditions impacting resilience and power distribution are just a few examples of setbacks experienced by these communities (otherwise part of a modern and well-developed economy).
In the United States alone, over 30% of the households have reportedly experienced energy insecurity according to the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (U.S. Energy Information Agency). Among these, nearly 15% of the households had received a service disconnection notice and more than 10% of the households stated that they have had to maintain unsafe/unhealthy temperatures in their homes.
To further add to the complexity of the subject matter, continuously growing energy demand and consumption has not only added to the challenge but also greatly contributed to increasing negative footprint on the environment as consequence of combustion of fossil fuels at elevated rates (adding to increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and thereby global warming) as result of increasing human activity. With that, access to renewable energy alternatives and renewable energy adaptation are two important aspect of future energy sustainability that need to be taken into consideration and be made an integral part of any strategy toward energy equity, integration and resilience.
Research at GWSI
The research, education, and implementation focus at the GWSI span across the key pillars of renewable energy adaptation and sustainability (Energy Equity | Energy Integration | Energy Resilience) with the objective to support national energy infrastructure and security through: policy research and advisory, technology review and strategize integration of renewable energy innovations.
Specifically, the GWSI contributes to strategies comprised of transformative adaptation measures, improving infrastructure, securing transmissions and distributions lines, as well as improving efficiencies at the user end reducing energy waste.
By partnering with leading GWU faculties, industry leaders and legislators the GWSI advances cutting edge multi-disciplinary research in the areas of clean energy science and innovation, economics and finance, and law and policy to further devise the most comprehensive solutions to challenges associated with renewable energy adaptation and sustainability.