Goal #7

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

UNSW is committed to increasing access to clean and affordable energy for all and demonstrates this through:

  • World-leading research addressing the most pressing global energy issues
  • Courses that cover topics relating to energy policy and engineering
  • Our own operational transition to 100% renewable energy through a solar Power Purchase Agreement and on-site renewable energy generation 
  • Coordination of energy activities across UNSW and industry, government and community stakeholders.

Bypassing fossil fuels

Globally, about 1 billion people do not have access to electricity and 3 billion rely on wood or animal dung for cooking and heating, exposing them to dangerous levels of indoor pollution. Could the use of renewable energy sources like the wind and sun be the pathway to access affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy? In 2007, hydroelectricity was the main source of renewable energy in Australia, accounting for 6% of energy. In 2019, contributions from renewables grew to 23% through increases from solar photovoltaics and wind. Renewables are often the lowest cost option for generating electricity, so countries that don't have modern energy systems already can now bypass fossil fuels and develop their energy systems based on renewable energy sources and efficient equipment.

In this video, Professor Alistair Sproul from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, UNSW, breaks down some of the key challenges behind SDG #7.

UNSW Clean Energy Capability Portfolio

The Portfolio demonstrates how UNSW plays a critical role in working together with our local and international partners to address the most pressing global energy issues including reliability, affordability and sustainability through research. This includes outlining the research centres and facilities that focus on affordable and clean energy.

Tap into the largest and most diverse grouping of energy experts in Australia. 

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The centres and research groups that contribute to the UNSW Clean Energy Capability Portfolio include:

UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute

The UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute brings together UNSW's elite researchers and major partners across industry, government, research institutions and the community to advance the blueprint for future energy systems globally.

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The German-Australian Alliance for Electrochemical Technologies for the Storage of Renewable Energy


Big solar panels in a field

UNSW Energy Institute

Over the last 30 years, UNSW has carved a formidable reputation as one of the world's leading research and technology hubs for energy innovation.

The Institute accelerates the role that energy plays in supporting a growing, zero-carbon economy and provides an independent, evidence-based, system-wide understanding of energy’s contribution to the economy, coordinates energy activities across UNSW and collaborates with industry, government, community stakeholders and other research institutions. This includes on the ground international energy developments, global IP partnerships leading solar PV technologies and the creation of a leading social entrepreneur alumni group.

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World-first fusion device

Tokamak machine

The first ever nuclear fusion device to be wholly designed, built and operated by students is being planned for UNSW Sydney. 

The small-scale tokamak device is set be housed at UNSW’s main Kensington campus. The program is part of the UNSW’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) scheme designed to engage undergraduate and postgraduate students in ambitious, long-term, multidisciplinary challenges. 

The project is led by nuclear engineering expert Dr Patrick Burr and aims to have a working device operating within two to three years. 

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Sunswift electric car

Sunswift 7 electric car

UNSW Sydney’s Sunswift 7 solar-powered electric car has claimed a Guinness World Record, achieving the record of ‘Fastest EV over 1000km on a single charge’. The car, designed and built by students, posted a verified time of 11 hours 52.08 minutes, averaging almost 85km/h at the Australian Automotive Research Centre (AARC) in Wensleydale, Victoria.

Sunswift 7 is the latest in a long line of successful solar-powered cars from UNSW since the first vehicle was produced in 1996.

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UNSW Strategy in Action 2025

Environmental sustainability is a key element of our 2025 Strategy. Our students and staff are actively engaged in environmental and social issues. We recognise that we are uniquely positioned to contribute to solving global environmental challenges through teaching, research, thought leadership and demonstrating leading practices on our campuses.


UNSW researchers pioneered the development of solar photovoltaic technology, which is now helping the University achieve net zero emissions from energy use.

Net zero emissions

In 2021 a revised UNSW Investment Policy was approved, reflecting a resolution to divest fossil fuel assets by 2025.   



UNSW has been powered by 100% renewable energy since 2020, through a solar Power Purchase Agreement.

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A new 131kW solar PV system was installed at the Paddington campus in 2022-23 as part of the University's electrification strategy.

Reduce total (scope 1, 2 and 3) emissions by:

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lower emissions than the baseline in the 2022 calendar year.

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UNSW 2025 Strategy Update

This document celebrates the key achievements of the first phase of the 2025 Strategy, highlighting where we have come from and where we are now. It also updates the framework against which we will assess, track and measure existing and new strategic initiatives over the next five years.


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UNSW Environmental Sustainability Report

UNSW has a history of environmental stewardship across research, learning & teaching and campus operations across several decades. The Environmental Sustainability Report 2021 measures and outlines our achievements to date.

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UNSW Sydney's Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF)

Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF)

The UNSW Solar Industrial Research Facility (SIRF), part of the Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW, hosts a world-class manufacturing facility that enables the development of UNSW's silicon solar cell technologies. Globally over 90% of all solar modules produced today are based on UNSW technology. UNSW also funds educational programs to develop solar systems in Fiji in partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and the University of the South Pacific (USP).

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UNSW Sustainable Development Goals 2022 Report

This report outlines UNSW's performance against the SDGs in 2022.


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