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Elements of Holistic Sustainability Assessments for Energy Systems

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Energy Systems Evaluation (Volume 1)

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Abstract

This study highlights the relevance of energy to nature and society, elaborates on the significance of energy systems for the sustainability of human civilization, and spells out parameters for assessing the sustainability of energy systems, as well as how it ought to be measured to be considered holistic. This study also presented the fundamental elements and sub-elements of holistic sustainability assessment for energy systems at a glance (using the space, time, impact and stakeholder-STIS conceptual structure) and suggested its application as a conceptual frame for determining the data and information requirements of holistic sustainability assessment for energy systems. The STIS conceptual structure was adapted because it describes/lists the basic elements and sub-elements of holistic sustainability assessment frameworks. This study recommended the use of the STIS conceptual structure for evaluating the inadequacies of individual methodologies, as well as combinations of methodologies as tools for holistic sustainability assessment of energy systems. Consequently, it is also expected that the STIS conceptual structure be adopted as a systems-thinking or mind frame in determining the combinations of methodologies that will help fill identified methodological gaps, in order to provide complete information which is the goal of holistic sustainability assessments for energy systems. Finally, this study discussed the limitations of the energy systems of the future (mostly renewable energy systems) and offered recommendations for enhancing their sustainability in the long run. Based on the limitations identified and recommendations offered, this study further described the likely features of future holistic sustainability assessment frameworks for evaluating future energy systems.

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Abbreviations

AHP:

Analytic hierarchy process-AHP

ANP:

Analytic network process

CBA:

Cost-benefit analysis

EIA:

Environmental impact assessments

ELECTRE:

Elimination and Choice expressing Reality

EROI:

Energy return on energy investment

EROIdistr:

Energy return on investment after distribution

EROIdm:

Energy return on investment of domestic energy supplies

EROIeco:

Energy return on investment of an economy

EROIext:

Energy return on investment of extended use (same as use)

EROIfarmgate:

Energy return on investment after farmgate (same as EROIstd for cultivation and harvesting of bioenergy feedstock)

EROIim:

Energy return on investment of imported energy supplies

EROIminemouth:

Energy return on investment after minemouth (same as EROIstd for extraction of fossil and mineral based raw materials for energy production)

EROIpou:

Energy return on investment at point of use (same as after refining/production)

EROIprod:

Energy return on investment after production (same as after refining)

EROIref:

Energy return on investment after refining

EROIsoc:

Energy return on investment of a society

EROIstd:

Energy return on investment after resource extraction

EROItrans:

Energy return on investment after transmission or transportation (same as after distribution)

EROIuse:

Energy return on investment of use

EROIwaste source (landfill/dump site/bin):

Energy return on investment after waste source/waste collection (same as EROIstd for collection of bioenergy feedstock from waste sources e.g. landfills, dump sites and bins)

GERR:

Gross energy requirement ratio

GDP:

Gross Domestic Product

GIS:

Geographical Information Systems

HIA:

Health impact assessment

LCA:

Life cycle assessment

LCSA:

Life cycle sustainability assessments

MAUT:

Multi Attribute Utility Theory

NEG:

Net energy gain

NER:

Net energy ratio

OECD:

Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development

PEF:

Process engineered fuel

PROMETHEE:

Preference ranking organization method for enrichment evaluation

RDF:

Refuse derived fuel

SEA:

Strategic environmental assessment

SIA:

Sustainability impact assessment

SMCA:

Spatial multi-criteria assessment

SA:

Sustainability assessments

STIS:

Space, time, impact and stakeholder

SRF:

Solid recovered fuel

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Arodudu, O. (2021). Elements of Holistic Sustainability Assessments for Energy Systems. In: Ren, J. (eds) Energy Systems Evaluation (Volume 1). Green Energy and Technology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67529-5_4

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