The Global Energy Trilemma

How can we achieve the 3 essential goals of the energy trilemma?

  • Security of supply
  • Equity for the population
  • Sustainability for the planet

The Energy trilemma was first  defined as an urgent global problem by the World Energy Council in 2011, and they have been helping different nations to work towards reconciling the 3 dimensions of the trilemma:

  1. meeting the ever-growing demand for energy,
  2. ensuring there is affordable, accessible energy for all, and at the same time
  3. minimising the effect of energy use and production on climate change

Immersa believes that Energy Storage is a useful approach to all of these issues, and will play a crucial part in future world energy strategies.


Energy storage can help make energy more available and affordable, and can help fight poverty

Battery storage can be incorporated into off-grid systems, which are often the most feasible solution for energy access in rural areas of developing countries eg Africa. This enables customers to purchase a package of appliances and the associated power supply, The preferred Pay As You Go models provide several advantages to customers with low or variable incomes: instead of regular, fixed payments, they can pay small amounts in advance for the service they use,allowing reliable energy access that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive.

Globally, it is estimated that an additional 3 million pay as you go solar home systems will be sold by 2018-19

Energy needs to be available for all people in all tiers of society, in all areas of the world. It is absolutely fundamental to a reasonable standard of  living, and essential for people of all backgrounds to be able to make and take opportunities. A robust energy supply is the backbone of every thriving economy.


Wind and solar energy are used to generate over 8% of the UK’s electricity.  The proportion of electricity from these sources, combined with electricity from new wave and tidal energy, is set to increase to 24% by 2020 to meet EU renewable energy targets (Source: Parliamentary POST note 464 May 2014 Intermittent Electricity Generation).

As a nation, we are moving away from coal and gas burning power plants and replacing these traditional methods with renewable technologies.  However, most forms of renewable electricity generation are deemed as disruptive due to their intermittency.  The national challenge is to maintain the constant supply with a backdrop of intermittent supply and irregular consumption. It is therefore essential to combine sustainable sources of energy with energy storage systems.

The World Energy Council’s Energy Trilemma Index tool ranks countries on their ability to provide sustainable energy


The UK faces significant challenges in securing energy supply because;

  • Domestic production of fossil fuels has steadily declined,
  • Nuclear power plants are being run down (Hinkley C)
  • Coal plants will be forced to close due to changes in European legislation.
  • Disruptive Generation from renewable energy sources
  • increased users on the system are causing frequency imbalances.

Furthermore, ageing infrastructure and the tightening of reserve capacity margins, called for extraordinary measures by the national grid operator, including tenders, to ensure supply during the winter 2014/2015.

The UK’s energy security performance does not yet reflect these constraints and is expected to decrease in future rankings.

Energy storage and grid balancing can help to mitigate some of these problems going forwards.