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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

Energy Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG13, SDG7, STARS | No Comments
By Hannah Schwartz  Universities play a pivotal role in shaping the future, not just through education but also by setting an example of responsible stewardship. Saving energy isn't just about cutting costs; it's about society, wellbeing, and environmental impact. By implementing energy-saving measures, universities demonstrate commitment to mitigating climate change…

Buildings Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG12, SDG3, SDG6, SDG7, SDG9, STARS | No Comments
By Bella Wright Building and innovation are pivotal to advancing society. However, how we build can have significant impacts on our planet and our future. To ensure the health and well-being of our planet, it is important to practice sustainable building of infrastructure and sustainable operations management.  The STARS* assessment…

Sustainable, Functional Nanocomposites for Energy Applications

| Professional Development, SDG7, SDG9, Sustainability in Action | No Comments
Functional nanocomposites are composed with different combinations from a large selection of nanomaterials, such as nanocarbons, metal oxides/chalcogenides, carbides, phosphides, polymers, etc., which possess superior mechanical, thermal and electrical properties, leading to broad applications in smart structures, chemical sensors, energy storage and nano-electronic devices. However, the high cost and difficulty…

Electric Vehicle Showcase – An Electric Atmosphere for An Electric Event

| Events, Guest Posts, SDG17, SDG7, SDG9 | No Comments
By Patricia Barnes* Auburn University’s Electric Vehicle Showcase had a wonderful turn out on September 22nd, 2023. The event kicked off on a beautiful evening, showcasing 18 different electric vehicles (EVs). From the iconic Tesla to the new Ford F150 Lightning pickup truck, to motorbikes and cycle bikes, a wide…

Emissions Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS 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: …

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