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Article

Integrated Multidimensional Sustainability Assessment of Energy System Transformation Pathways

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Institute of Networked Energy Systems, German Aerospace Centre (DLR), 70563 Stuttgart, Germany
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Institute of Economic Structures Research (GWS), 49080 Osnabrück, Germany
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Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), 76133 Karlsruhe, Germany
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Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Studies (ZIRIUS), University of Stuttgart, 70174 Stuttgart, Germany
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Institute for Industrial Ecology (INEC), Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences, 75175 Pforzheim, Germany
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International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Abu Dhabi P.O. Box 236, United Arab Emirates
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Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering (INATECH), University of Freiburg, 70910 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eduardo Aguilera
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5217; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095217
Received: 12 April 2021 / Revised: 28 April 2021 / Accepted: 4 May 2021 / Published: 7 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analyzing Development Paths of Emerging Energy Technologies)
Sustainable development embraces a broad spectrum of social, economic and ecological aspects. Thus, a sustainable transformation process of energy systems is inevitably multidimensional and needs to go beyond climate impact and cost considerations. An approach for an integrated and interdisciplinary sustainability assessment of energy system transformation pathways is presented here. It first integrates energy system modeling with a multidimensional impact assessment that focuses on life cycle-based environmental and macroeconomic impacts. Then, stakeholders’ preferences with respect to defined sustainability indicators are inquired, which are finally integrated into a comparative scenario evaluation through a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA), all in one consistent assessment framework. As an illustrative example, this holistic approach is applied to the sustainability assessment of ten different transformation strategies for Germany. Applying multi-criteria decision analysis reveals that both ambitious (80%) and highly ambitious (95%) carbon reduction scenarios can achieve top sustainability ranks, depending on the underlying energy transformation pathways and respective scores in other sustainability dimensions. Furthermore, this research highlights an increasingly dominant contribution of energy systems’ upstream chains on total environmental impacts, reveals rather small differences in macroeconomic effects between different scenarios and identifies the transition among societal segments and climate impact minimization as the most important stakeholder preferences. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy scenario; energy system modeling; sustainability; impact assessment; life cycle assessment (LCA); macroeconomic modeling; focus group; conjoint analysis; discrete choice experiment; multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) energy scenario; energy system modeling; sustainability; impact assessment; life cycle assessment (LCA); macroeconomic modeling; focus group; conjoint analysis; discrete choice experiment; multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA)
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MDPI and ACS Style

Naegler, T.; Becker, L.; Buchgeister, J.; Hauser, W.; Hottenroth, H.; Junne, T.; Lehr, U.; Scheel, O.; Schmidt-Scheele, R.; Simon, S.; Sutardhio, C.; Tietze, I.; Ulrich, P.; Viere, T.; Weidlich, A. Integrated Multidimensional Sustainability Assessment of Energy System Transformation Pathways. Sustainability 2021, 13, 5217. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095217

AMA Style

Naegler T, Becker L, Buchgeister J, Hauser W, Hottenroth H, Junne T, Lehr U, Scheel O, Schmidt-Scheele R, Simon S, Sutardhio C, Tietze I, Ulrich P, Viere T, Weidlich A. Integrated Multidimensional Sustainability Assessment of Energy System Transformation Pathways. Sustainability. 2021; 13(9):5217. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095217

Chicago/Turabian Style

Naegler, Tobias, Lisa Becker, Jens Buchgeister, Wolfgang Hauser, Heidi Hottenroth, Tobias Junne, Ulrike Lehr, Oliver Scheel, Ricarda Schmidt-Scheele, Sonja Simon, Claudia Sutardhio, Ingela Tietze, Philip Ulrich, Tobias Viere, and Anke Weidlich. 2021. "Integrated Multidimensional Sustainability Assessment of Energy System Transformation Pathways" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 5217. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095217

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