SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, & modern energy for all is the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7). This goal strives to increase renewable energy, expand access & services, & enhance efficiency & research to ensure affordable & clean energy.

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy as told in the 2021 Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, & then expanded on below, illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit

SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy

Access to energy that is clean, affordable, reliable, and sustainable is essential to reduce poverty, ensure good health and wellbeing, take action against climate change, develop economies, and more. Well-established energy systems support business, agriculture, medicine, education, infrastructure, communication, and technology. Clean energy is important not only for these large-scale sectors, but also for individuals, as lack of access to clean cooking fuels leads to four million premature deaths annually. Clean energy is essential for sustaining life.

Auburn University engages with Goal 7 to a lesser degree across teaching, research, outreach, and student involvement. Engagement with Goal 7 is best represented by no fewer than 13 faculty conducting research from 2016 to 2018. Because clean energy is a catalyst for progress for so many other SDGs, addressing Goal 7 can potentially advance many other SDGs. Effectively approaching Goal 7 enables Auburn University to work toward many SDGs at once, magnifying Auburn University’s reach and amplifying its positive impact.

View the 2021 report titled Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

CSES 5400/6400: Bioenergy and the Environment, offered through the College of Agriculture, focuses on teaching students the role of bioenergy in reducing the environmental problems related to the use of fossil fuels and addressing declining rural economies. The class summarizes the impacts of fossil fuel use on the environment and human populations with focuses on identifying bioenergy crop species and agricultural practices used in their production. Graduate students research new crops that could be used as bioenergy crops in the US or other parts of the world.

corn in a field SDG Photo courtesy of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Department
Photo courtesy of Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts

The Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts was established to bring bioenergy and bioproduct opportunities to the state of Alabama and the Southeast. Auburn University is surrounded by renewable forest and agricultural biomass resources, making it ideally suited to conduct research on renewable energy. The Center has identified several universal research gaps that are barriers to the development of alternative fuels and energy and strives to fill these gaps through targeted program objectives. The Center is a catalyst for the development of bioenergy and bioproduct ideas, which will enhance Alabama’s economy and the quality of life for all by providing jobs for Alabama residents and developing green energy solutions.

Methane is an important biofuel, the main component of natural gas, and a potent greenhouse gas. Therefore, a better understanding of how nature makes this energy-rich and relatively inert gas may lead to the development of strategies for the production and/or conversion of natural gas as well as reduction of natural greenhouse gas emissions. Steven Mansoorabadi of the College of Science and Mathematics conducts research that could help mitigate sources of greenhouse gas emissions through the development of technologies for methane capture and conversion. This research could also help identify new targets for inhibitors of the formation of methane.

Image of methane molecule structure SDG Photo courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

People & Stories

Regeneration: Reversing Global Degeneration

| Director's Corner, SDG11, SDG13, SDG7 | No Comments
“If putting the future of life at the heart of everything we do is not central to our purpose and destiny, why are we here?” Paul Hawken In a 1946 New York Times article, the eminently quotable Albert Einstein said, “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is…

Climate Change 2021 & a “Quality Education”

| Director's Corner, SDG, SDG13, SDG4, SDG7 | No Comments
By Mike Kensler. For September, this column continues our tour of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this month focusing on SDG 4: Quality Education. Sort of. As I write this in late August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its Sixth Assessment Report, also…

Campus Changemaker: Dr. Sweta Byahut

| SDG1, SDG11, SDG6, SDG7, SDG9, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Chloe McMahon. Dr. Sweta Byahut serves as an Associate Professor and current Director at Auburn’s Community Planning graduate program. She has been teaching at Auburn for nearly nine years. A seasoned urban planner, her passion for sustainable urban development is evident both in her teaching and research. Since she…

Campus Changemakers Rob Engle & Scott McClure on energy engineering & designing a more sustainable campus

| SDG7, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
By Chloe McMahon. Rob Engle and Scott McClure both work as energy engineers for the Department of Facilities Management. The central concern of their work is to ensure that the university is using energy as efficiently as possible. Though this task may seem straightforward enough, they have found that maximizing energy efficiency means having a holistic knowledge about all…

To achieve clean energy, let’s rethink carbon

| Director's Corner, SDG7 | No Comments
“So, when you asked, ‘What is the next big opportunity?’ it is design. It is design for next use in the circular economy. But safe and circular.” Bill McDonough Clean, renewable energy is the only energy path to a livable future. In 2015, 193 nations agreed that a shift to…

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