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Global Energy Literacy Research Project

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Student Energy has released its Global Energy Literacy Scan, check out  the findings.  

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Energy literacy has always been a topic that makes the Student Energy clocks tick.  We EnerNerd-out over it all the time. So what exactly is energy literacy?  The US Department of Energy defines it as the “understanding of the nature and role of energy in the universe and in our lives. Energy Literacy is also the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems.” While we pride ourselves on being up to date on the latest happenings in energy, back in 2013 we felt something was missing. We realized we didn’t know exactly who was in the energy literacy space or the ways people were contributing to the conversation.  We checked out other authorities on the topic, but no one had completed comprehensive research on who was informing energy literacy and how they were doing it. And that is problematic; if we do not have the big picture view of how the energy literacy conversation is being driven, how can we, in turn, be sure that we are creating the right space for future energy leaders to learn and expand their knowledge. To solve this problem, we, with support from the Calgary Foundation, engaged Signals Group to give us a panoramic shot of how energy literacy is happening. Signals group is a web-based data research group that provides ecosystem intelligence; we felt that their broad scope would provide just the energy literacy answers we were looking for. They analyzed energy literacy efforts in 15 countries and through seven distinct lenses.  This resulted in a representative holistic scan of the global status of energy literacy paired with a deep dive on specific regions. Today we are releasing the full report to the world but here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Universities

Amount of Energy-Related Courses by Country

Amount of Energy-Related Courses by Country

Of great interest to Student Energy, was an examination of the opportunities university students have to engage with energy in the classroom. Overall, the percentage of energy-related courses compared to other course offerings hovered around one percent. Canada is the country that stands out from the pack - there are roughly four times as many energy-oriented courses (by proportion of total programs) in Canada as there are in the other countries examined.

Focus Areas of Energy Courses

Focus Areas of Energy Courses

A breakdown of the subject matter within energy courses is telling. Close to 60 percent of energy literacy courses focused on sustainability. Clearly, students and universities alike see where the future is heading in the need to create a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

Academic Publications on Energy

Academic Publications on Energy

A final piece of analysis in the university setting was a look at the energy literacy publications, the research that is informing learning in the classroom and in many cases, innovation in the industry. Since 2008 we have seen interesting movement in the areas of research being undertaken when it comes to energy. 

World Energy Business

Breakdown of the Global Energy Industry

Breakdown of the Global Energy Industry

There are approximately 1.4 million businesses in the countries we surveyed – this is about four percent of total business - working on energy. With a mind towards the energy debate, this is very interesting. While the energy industry is concentrated in a relatively few number of corporations, the revenue from and reach of this sector is significant. To the left is a breakdown of which sectors made up the energy industry at the time of the study.

 Corporate vs. Government Funding of Energy Researh

Corporate vs. Government funding of Energy Research

Energy companies are also a driving force in energy research and development. Year over year, private research funding has dwarfed the amounts put forward by governments. When these companies engage in energy literacy, they rarely act alone. Rather, companies trend towards partnerships with a non-governmental organization and/or an educational institution to carry out their literacy activities. [/column]                

Non-Governmental Organizations

In our 15 representative countries, there are close to 10,000 NGOs working on some form of energy literacy - together they are a driving force of the energy conversation. 

Energy Focused NGOs

Energy Focused NGOs

The breakdown of how NGOs are working in the energy space is telling. No surprise to anyone following global climate talks - the largest population is focusing on activism, and 30 percent of NGOs around the globe are working on climate change. Compare this to the seven percent of organizations working on research. Signals Group determined that the high amount of activism and education work happening in the energy space there is also a high demand for energy literacy. With so many forces working towards a sustainable energy future, there is an immediate need for accurate information and open forums to debate the best solutions.[/column]                    

Where We Go Next

The highlights above are just a small snapshot of the data gathered, we invite you to download the full report, and dig into it further for yourself. We clearly recognize the limitations of this report as we were only able to look at 15 regions.  This is just the start of our dive into the world of energy literacy and we are hopeful we can continue to lead the charge in better understanding how energy literacy activities are carried out, and perhaps in the future how effective they are at creating conscience energy citizens. The report clearly shows that there is a vast amount of energy information and debate circulating the globe, from various sources. Now the real challenge is aggregation. Student Energy is working to put all of the energy literacy pieces together into one easy access point for people to learn, debate and discuss energy topics. On April 15th we will be releasing our Energy Literacy Platform - a web-based database that will serve as a portal into the energy world. Stay tuned… it is going to be a big one!