E-Mail Alert

Add your e-mail address to receive forthcoming issues of this journal:

Journal Browser

Journal Browser

Special Issue "Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Vasilis Fthenakis

Center for Life Cycle Analysis, Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Life Cycle Analysis, Solar Energy, Renewable Energy Penetration in the Grid, Fluid Dynamics, Air Pollution Prevention and Control
Guest Editor
Dr. Marco Raugei

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), Net Energy Analysis (NEA), Environmental Management and Sustainability Analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Assessments of the environmental impacts of energy-generation technologies are essential in evaluating their sustainability, and they are especially important in a material-, water- and energy-constrained world where energy affordability and environmental sustainability have to be balanced. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) can give a holistic picture of the total environmental impacts and costs to the society so that a comprehensive and balanced comparison can be obtained. LCA provides a framework for quantifying the potential environmental impacts of material and energy inputs and outputs of a process or product from "cradle to grave" or “cradle to cradle”.

This Special Issue will cover environmental impacts, resource availability and Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI) of conventional and renewable technologies in static and prospective energy mixtures. Special focus will be placed on new fuel pathways as shale gas and synthetic fuel production using conventional and/or renewable energy. Our aim is to put several energy technologies on a comparable basis and, thus, offer a crucial contribution to today’s key debates about energy and climate change. Consistently framed comparative studies that explicitly take into account the complex interlinkages and interdependencies of the various existing technologies are especially welcome, as are those aimed at answering policy-relevant questions such as which energy systems are more likely to enable a transition to a more sustainable future.

Prof. Dr. Vasilis Fthenakis
Dr. Marco Raugei
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Life Cycle Analysis,
  • Energy Return on Investment,
  • Net Energy Analysis,
  • External Costs,
  • Energy Environmental Impacts,
  • Resource Assessment,
  • Shale Gas,
  • Synthetic Fuels,
  • Renewable Energy;
  • Energy Efficiency;
  • Energy Storage;
  • Electricity;
  • Smart Grids;
  • Bioenergy;
  • Fossil Fuels;
  • Peak Oil;
  • Nuclear Energy;
  • Photovoltaics;
  • Solar Energy;
  • Wind Energy;
  • Tidal Energy.

Published Papers (6 papers)

View options order results:
result details:
Displaying articles 1-6
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle Comparing Apples to Apples: Why the Net Energy Analysis Community Needs to Adopt the Life-Cycle Analysis Framework
Energies 2016, 9(11), 917; doi:10.3390/en9110917
Received: 22 April 2016 / Revised: 20 June 2016 / Accepted: 8 October 2016 / Published: 5 November 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (980 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
How do we know which energy technologies or resources are worth pursuing and which aren’t? One way to answer that question is to compare the energy return of a certain technology—i.e., how much energy is remaining after accounting for the amount of energy
[...] Read more.
How do we know which energy technologies or resources are worth pursuing and which aren’t? One way to answer that question is to compare the energy return of a certain technology—i.e., how much energy is remaining after accounting for the amount of energy expended in the production and delivery process. Such energy return ratios (the most famous of which is energy return on investment (EROI)) fall within the field of net energy analysis (NEA), and provide an easy way to determine which technology is “better”; i.e., higher Energy Return Ratios (ERRs) are, certeris paribus, better than lower ERRs. Although useful as a broad measure of energy profitability, comparisons can also be misleading, particularly if the units being compared are different. For example, the energy content of electricity produced from a photovoltaic cell is different than the energy content of coal at the mine-mouth, yet these are often compared directly within the literature. These types of inconsistencies are common within the NEA literature. In this paper, we offer life cycle assessment (LCA) and the LCA methodology as a possible solution to the persistent methodological issues within the NEA community, and urge all NEA practitioners to adopt this methodology in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)
Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle The Solarevolution: Much More with Way Less, Right Now—The Disruptive Shift to Renewables
Energies 2016, 9(9), 676; doi:10.3390/en9090676
Received: 10 May 2016 / Revised: 27 June 2016 / Accepted: 3 August 2016 / Published: 25 August 2016
PDF Full-text (6037 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Renewable energy resources and technologies are sufficient to meet all of humanity’s energy requirements, provided that the transition to renewables is accompanied in parallel by intense, disciplined initiatives to design, fabricate, and distribute ubiquitously an emerging class of ultra-efficient energy consuming devices. Renewables
[...] Read more.
Renewable energy resources and technologies are sufficient to meet all of humanity’s energy requirements, provided that the transition to renewables is accompanied in parallel by intense, disciplined initiatives to design, fabricate, and distribute ubiquitously an emerging class of ultra-efficient energy consuming devices. Renewables can thereby power devices which are disruptively more energy-efficient in the delivery of fundamental energy services (food production, cooking, heating, cooling, mobility, logistics, lighting, industrial processes, information systems, etc.). Rather than substituting new energy sources to directly power legacy devices that were originally designed on the basis of fossil fuels, designers will develop these novel devices to deliver superior performance in all respects: cleaner, safer, more durable, more convenient, and more economical. This Solarevolution, like the Industrial Revolution two hundred years ago, is about transforming the artifacts of human society. Just as labor-saving machinery replaced manual and animal labor when James Watt invented the steam engine, so now energy-saving devices powered directly by non-polluting solar electricity are beginning to replace those inefficient brute force artifacts that still depend on the burning of fossil fuels. Building upon historic perspectives and the careful examination of key renewable energy qualities, four case studies will be highlighted, not to resolve all of the issues, but to instantiate the pivotal role of design science to avert the most severe impacts of global warming and strategic resources depletion. While great attention has been given to debating the net energy of renewable energy generation technologies, the stability of society depends just as much on redesigning energy-consuming technologies, overcoming the temptation, for example, of using biofuels to feed gas-guzzling energy hogs left over from the fossil fuel era—to run internal combustion engines that can’t deliver more than 1% net efficiency. Applying the engineering principle of doing way more with way less, right now, humanity has the possibility of a bright, more secure future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)
Figures

Open AccessArticle The Energy and Environmental Performance of Ground-Mounted Photovoltaic Systems—A Timely Update
Energies 2016, 9(8), 622; doi:10.3390/en9080622
Received: 26 May 2016 / Revised: 4 July 2016 / Accepted: 27 July 2016 / Published: 8 August 2016
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2453 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Given photovoltaics’ (PVs) constant improvements in terms of material usage and energy efficiency, this paper provides a timely update on their life-cycle energy and environmental performance. Single-crystalline Si (sc-Si), multi-crystalline Si (mc-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) systems are
[...] Read more.
Given photovoltaics’ (PVs) constant improvements in terms of material usage and energy efficiency, this paper provides a timely update on their life-cycle energy and environmental performance. Single-crystalline Si (sc-Si), multi-crystalline Si (mc-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe) and copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) systems are analysed, considering the actual country of production and adapting the input electricity mix accordingly. Energy pay-back time (EPBT) results for fixed-tilt ground mounted installations range from 0.5 years for CdTe PV at high-irradiation (2300 kWh/(m2·yr)) to 2.8 years for sc-Si PV at low-irradiation (1000 kWh/(m2·yr)), with corresponding quality-adjusted energy return on investment (EROIPE-eq) values ranging from over 60 to ~10. Global warming potential (GWP) per kWhel averages out at ~30 g(CO2-eq), with lower values (down to ~10 g) for CdTe PV at high irradiation, and up to ~80 g for Chinese sc-Si PV at low irradiation. In general, results point to CdTe PV as the best performing technology from an environmental life-cycle perspective, also showing a remarkable improvement for current production modules in comparison with previous generations. Finally, we determined that one-axis tracking installations can improve the environmental profile of PV systems by approximately 10% for most impact metrics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Understanding the Contribution of Mining and Transportation to the Total Life Cycle Impacts of Coal Exported from the United States
Energies 2016, 9(7), 559; doi:10.3390/en9070559
Received: 15 April 2016 / Revised: 17 June 2016 / Accepted: 30 June 2016 / Published: 19 July 2016
PDF Full-text (2497 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The construction of two marine bulk terminals in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States are currently under review and would open up additional thermal coal exports to Asia on the order of almost 100 million additional tonnes per year. The major
[...] Read more.
The construction of two marine bulk terminals in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States are currently under review and would open up additional thermal coal exports to Asia on the order of almost 100 million additional tonnes per year. The major exporters of coal to Asian markets include Indonesia and Australia. This life cycle analysis (LCA) seeks to understand the role of transportation and mining in the cradle-to-busbar environmental impacts of coal exports from the Powder River Basin (PRB) to Asian countries, when compared to the competitor countries. This LCA shows that: (1) the most significant greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts in the cradle-to-busbar life cycle of coal for power generation come from the combustion of coal in a power plant, even when 90% carbon capture is applied; (2) for non-GHG air impacts, power plant combustion impacts are less dominant and variations in upstream impacts (mining and transportation) are more important; and (3) when comparing impacts between countries, upstream impacts vary for both GHG and non-GHG results, but conclusions that rank countries cannot be made. Future research should include expansion to include non-air impacts, potential consequential effects of coal exports, and a better understanding around the characterization of non-GHG ocean transport impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Optimal Planning of Sustainable Buildings: Integration of Life Cycle Assessment and Optimization in a Decision Support System (DSS)
Energies 2016, 9(7), 490; doi:10.3390/en9070490
Received: 14 March 2016 / Revised: 20 May 2016 / Accepted: 20 June 2016 / Published: 24 June 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (999 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Energy efficiency measures in buildings can provide for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A sustainable design and planning of technologies for energy production should be based on economic and environmental criteria. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used to quantify the
[...] Read more.
Energy efficiency measures in buildings can provide for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A sustainable design and planning of technologies for energy production should be based on economic and environmental criteria. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used to quantify the environmental impacts over the whole cycle of life of production plants. Optimization models can support decisions that minimize costs and negative impacts. In this work, a multi-objective decision problem is formalized that takes into account LCA calculations and that minimizes costs and GHG emissions for general buildings. A decision support system (DSS) is applied to a real case study in the Northern Italy, highlighting the advantage provided by the installation of renewable energy. Moreover, a comparison among different optimal and non optimal solution was carried out to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed DSS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Life Cycle Assessment of a HYSOL Concentrated Solar Power Plant: Analyzing the Effect of Geographic Location
Energies 2016, 9(6), 413; doi:10.3390/en9060413
Received: 18 April 2016 / Revised: 17 May 2016 / Accepted: 20 May 2016 / Published: 27 May 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1693 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology is developing in order to achieve higher energy efficiency, reduced economic costs, and improved firmness and dispatchability in the generation of power on demand. To this purpose, a research project titled HYSOL has developed a new power plant,
[...] Read more.
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology is developing in order to achieve higher energy efficiency, reduced economic costs, and improved firmness and dispatchability in the generation of power on demand. To this purpose, a research project titled HYSOL has developed a new power plant, consisting of a combined cycle configuration with a 100 MWe steam turbine and an 80 MWe gas-fed turbine with biomethane. Technological developments must be supported by the identification, quantification, and evaluation of the environmental impacts produced. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the environmental performance of a CSP plant based on HYSOL technology using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology while considering different locations. The scenarios investigated include different geographic locations (Spain, Chile, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and South Africa), an alternative modelling procedure for biomethane, and the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel. Results indicate that the geographic location has a significant influence on the environmental profile of the HYSOL CSP plant. The results obtained for the HYSOL configuration located in different countries presented significant differences (between 35% and 43%, depending on the category), especially in climate change and water stress categories. The differences are mainly attributable to the local availability of solar and water resources and composition of the national electricity mix. In addition, HYSOL technology performs significantly better when hybridizing with biomethane instead of natural gas. This evidence is particularly relevant in the climate change category, where biomethane hybridization emits 27.9–45.9 kg CO2 eq per MWh (depending on the biomethane modelling scenario) and natural gas scenario emits 264 kg CO2 eq/MWh. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems in Current and Evolving Grids)

Journal Contact

MDPI AG
Energies Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
E-Mail: 
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
Contact Details Submit to Energies Edit a special issue Review for Energies
loading...
Back to Top