The transformation of the power generation industry from coal-based to more sustainable energy sources is an irreversible trend. In China, the coal-fired power plant, as the main electric power supply facility at present, needs to know its own sustainability level to face the future competition. A hybrid multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) model is proposed in this paper to assess the sustainability levels of the existing Chinese coal-fired power units. The areal grey relational analysis (AGRA) method is involved in the hybrid model, and a combined weighting method is used to determine the priorities of the criteria. The combining weight fuses the fuzzy rough set (FRS) and entropy objective weighting method together with the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) subjective weighting method by game theory. Moreover, an AHP weighting uncertainty analysis using Monte Carlo (MC) simulation is introduced to measure the uncertainty of the results, and a 95 percent confidence interval (CI) is defined as the uncertainty measurement of the alternatives. A case study about eight coal-fired power units is carried out with a criteria system, which contains five aspects in an operational perspective, such as the flexibility, economic, environmental, reliability and technical criterion. The sustainability assessment is performed at the unit level, and the results give a priority rank of the eight alternatives; additionally, the uncertainty analysis supplies the extra information from a statistical perspective. This work expands a novel hybrid MCDM method to the sustainability assessment of the power generation systems, and it may be a benefit to the energy enterprises in assessing the sustainability at the unit level and enhance its ability in future sustainable development.
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