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 are shared in our latest Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report. They are shared below to illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit

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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, outreach, and research. Engagement with Goal 7 is best represented by no fewer than 16 courses offered from 2019 to 2021. Because clean energy is a catalyst for progress for so many other SDGs, addressing Goal 7 can potentially advance many other SDGs. Effectively prioritizing Goal 7 will enable Auburn University to work toward many SDGs at once, magnifying Auburn University’s reach and amplifying its positive impact.

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

Actions at Auburn

Auburn’s Regional Sustainable Practices in Northern Spain is a four-week immersion program designed to introduce students to sustainable technologies and practices. Students visit wind and solar farm sites, biomass conversion facilities, and a desalination plant. Courses particularly emphasize renewable energy, water treatment, and sustainable infrastructure. Students are able to learn from Auburn University professors as well as current experts in Spain. Courses take place in the facilities of the Engineering Association of Navarre in the center of Pamplona, Spain.

Image of sustainable technology related to water in Spain
Students standing in front of a dam

Included in the College of Engineering, BSEN 5260 aims to provide graduates with skill sets needed to solve global issues in applications of food, water, energy, environment, and health. A course designed to examine the use of renewable energy in biological, food, forest, and agricultural systems, BSEN 5260 includes aspects of bioenergy, solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy. A key course in the Biosystems Engineering degree, it aims to prepare students for professional careers in biosystems industries and related natural resource and environmental systems sectors.

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.

Dr. David Scarborough is an Assistant Professor within the College of Engineering. Dr. Scarborough’s research efforts focus upon modeling high-efficiency, low-emissions combustion systems for peak production of power. Within the School of Aerospace Engineering, Dr. Scarborough studies the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by pursuing efficiency and improvement of burners for space heaters. These burners produce less than 1 ppm CO and 5 ppm NOx, significantly less greenhouse gas production than commercial burners.

Emissions from a smoke stack at a plant.
Image of methane molecule structure SDG Photo courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

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.

People & Stories

Air & Climate: Auburn University’s Sustainability Report

| SDG11, SDG13, SDG3, SDG7, STARS, Updates | No Comments
By Randy Martin, Office of Sustainability The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest report assessing the current status and trends of climate change, future risks and the long- and near-term responses. This report contained a sentence that has stuck with me since I first read it: …

It’s Electric! Read How to Make an Impact as an Energy Alabama Student Member

| Guest Posts, SDG7, Updates | No Comments
by Laurel Holmes Interested in sustainable energy? If so, connect with students like you across the state! Energy Alabama is offering free memberships to college students across the state. Joining as a student member offers the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers, industry experts, and professionals advocating for green energy…

Developing a Future-oriented Workforce for Renewable Energy Industries

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by Dr. Lauren E. Beckingham A collaborative NSF project between Auburn University (AU) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (Lauren Beckingham) and Department of Geosciences (Karen McNeal) and Tuskegee University (TU) Department of Mechanical Engineering (John Solomon) aims to foster a much-needed workforce for renewable energy industries. The project seeks…

Alumni Spotlight: Kenzley Defler

| Guest Posts, SDG2, SDG7, Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate, Updates | No Comments
Kenzley volunteering with the Campus Kitchens Project to reduce food waste and fight food insecurity. by Kenzley Defler, Energy Justice Organizer for Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition When reflecting on my personal engagement as a student at Auburn, I honestly don’t know quite where to begin. From running on the cross…

Driving into the Future: Auburn’s Electric Vehicle Showcase Event

| SDG7, Updates | No Comments
by Kaylee Dimock, Office of Sustainability This Jaguar brand EV owner displayed multiple adaptors that can be used to charge the car. Last Monday Drive Electric Alabama Chapter, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, The City of Auburn, Energy Alabama, Alabama Power, Auburn University Office of Parking Services, The Office of…

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