Special Issue "BIWAES 2021—Biennial International Workshop Advances in Energy Studies "Empowering Communities, Beyond Energy Scarcity""

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "C: Energy and Environment".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Sergio Ulgiati
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sciences for the Environment, Parthenope University of Naples, Centro Direzionale, Isola C4, 80143 Napoli, Italy
Interests: energy and eMergy assessment; life cycle assessment; environmental chemistry; biorefineries and circular economy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Hans Schnitzer
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
1. Process Engineering and Energy Systems, Institute of Process and Particle Engineering, Graz University of Technology, Rechbauerstraße 12, 8010 Graz, Austria
2. StadtLABOR – Innovation for Urban Sustainability, Griesgasse 40, 8020 Graz, Austria
Interests: energy efficiency and renewable energies for production processes and urban systems; water-energy nexus; life-long learning system in many aspects of sustainability
Dr. Remo Santagata
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering, Parthenope University of Naples, Centro Direzionale, Isola C4, 80143 Napoli, Italy
Interests: environmental impact assessment; environment; sustainability; renewable energy technologies; energy engineering; environmental analysis; environmental management; sustainable development; power generation; environmental pollution

Special Issue Information

This Special Issue refers to the 11th edition of BIWAES, which will take place in parallel to the European Roundtable “Consumption and Production in a plus 1.5°C World”, Graz (Austria), 8. – 10. September 2021, www.erscp2021.eu.

A new energy scarcity

Energy is a fundamental resource for societal and economic metabolisms; not only do we need energy, but we clearly need to address crucial questions about its use (energy to do what? energy from where?) and appropriate management (top-down vs. bottom-up energy policy making). As is well known, a new kind of energy scarcity is occurring, not only due to limited abundance, but increasingly due to environmental constraints and trade-offs, to unequal availability worldwide and market prices.

Achieving sustainable economies and shared wellbeing calls for an urgent re-framing of the energy problem toward a balanced mix of solutions. The latter include technological improvement, use of energy resources consistent with their thermodynamic properties, a selection of environmentally friendly sources and carriers, suitable approaches to monitoring of impacts, efficiency measures with rebound control, lifestyle equity and reduction of energy poverty, decrease in wasteful habits, recognition of environmental limits in a limited planet, and careful management of the energy-water-food-environment nexus.

Empowering Communities

Who is in charge for energy solutions? Scientists and technology experts have absolutely provided important contributions within Academy and Business, orienting energy policy making. However, some top-down solutions have not always shown the ability to fully address the needs of communities, nor have they promoted stakeholders and citizens’ participation toward tailored solutions for the different situations. It may be time to integrate top-down and bottom-up efforts in order to benefit from community insight and knowledge (be they regional, urban, neighborhood and condominium realities, rural organizations, developing communities worldwide) and see needs and solutions that are visible to local realities and not easily visible to experts and policy makers.

Interdisciplinary evaluations

It clearly appears that the energy problem cannot only be addressed in thermodynamic or technological terms. A deeper understanding of trends, solutions and policies can only be achieved through converging efforts by different disciplinary sectors, so that economic, social, environmental, cultural, and psychological expertise converges into an innovative picture of local and larger communities toward shared wellbeing.

Prof. Dr. Sergio Ulgiati
Prof. Dr. Hans Schnitzer
Dr. Remo Santagata
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.

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 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.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Understanding the Sustainability of the Energy–Water–Land Flow Nexus in Transnational Trade of the Belt and Road Countries
Energies 2021, 14(19), 6311; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14196311 - 02 Oct 2021
Viewed by 536
Abstract
Increasing economic and population growth has put immense pressure on energy, water and land resources to satisfy national and supra-national demand. Through trade, a large proportion of such a demand is fulfilled. With trade as one of its key priorities, the China Belt [...] Read more.
Increasing economic and population growth has put immense pressure on energy, water and land resources to satisfy national and supra-national demand. Through trade, a large proportion of such a demand is fulfilled. With trade as one of its key priorities, the China Belt and Road Initiative is a long-term transcontinental investment program. The initiative gained significant attention due to greater opportunities for economic development, large population and different levels of resource availability. The nexus approach has appeared as a new viewpoint in discussions on balancing the competing sectoral demands. However, following years of work, constraints exist in the scope and focus of studies. The newly developed multi-regional input–output (MRIO) models covering the world’s economy and its use of resources permit a comprehensive analysis of resource usage by production and consumption at different levels, and bring more knowledge about resource nexus problems. Using the MRIO model, this work simultaneously tracks energy, water and land use flows and investigates the transnational resource nexus. A nexus strength indicator is proposed which depends on ternary diagrams to grade countries based on their combined resources’ use and sectoral weighting. Equal sectoral weighting is assigned. The analysis presented a sectorally balanced nexus approach. Findings support existing work by recognizing energy, water and land as the robust transnational connections, from both production and consumption points of view. Resource nexus issues differ from country to country owing to inequalities in industrial set-up, preferences in economic policy and resource endowments. The paper outlines how key resource nexus problems can be identified and prioritized in view of alternative and often opposing interests. Full article
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Article
The Transition to Clean Energy: Are People Living in Island Communities Ready for Smart Grids and Demand Response?
Energies 2021, 14(19), 6218; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14196218 - 29 Sep 2021
Viewed by 296
Abstract
Islands are widely recognised as ideal pilot sites that can spearhead the transition to clean energy and development towards a sustainable and healthy society. One of the assumptions underpinning this notion is that island communities are more ready to engage with smart grids [...] Read more.
Islands are widely recognised as ideal pilot sites that can spearhead the transition to clean energy and development towards a sustainable and healthy society. One of the assumptions underpinning this notion is that island communities are more ready to engage with smart grids (SGs) than people on the mainland. This is believed to be due to the high costs of energy on islands and the idea that the sense of community and collective action is stronger on islands than on the mainland. This paper presents findings from a survey conducted to assess people’s perception of, and readiness to engage with, SG and demand response (DR) in the communities of three islands taking part in a H2020 project called REACT. The main objective of the survey, conducted in 2020, was to inform the recruitment of participants in the project, which is piloting different technologies required for SGs and DR with communities on the three islands. The results show that many island residents are motivated to take part in SG, to engage with energy saving, and are willing to change some energy-related behaviours in their homes. However, the results also indicate that levels of ownership of, and knowledge and familiarity with, the SG and DR related technologies are extremely low, suggesting that the expected uptake of DR in islands might not be as high as anticipated. This brings into question the readiness of island dwellers for the SG, their role in the deployment of such schemes more widely and the validity of the assumptions often made about island communities. This has significant implications for the design of SGs and DR solutions for islands, including devoting sufficient efforts to build knowledge and awareness of the SG, investing in demonstration projects for that purpose and tailoring interventions based on island communities’ motivations. Full article
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Article
Modeling Dynamic Multifractal Efficiency of US Electricity Market
Energies 2021, 14(19), 6145; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14196145 - 27 Sep 2021
Viewed by 375
Abstract
The dramatic deregulatory reforms in US electricity markets increased competition, resulting in more complex prices compared to other commodities. This paper aims to investigate and compare the overall and time-varying multifractality and efficiency of four major US electricity regions: Mass Hub, Mid C, [...] Read more.
The dramatic deregulatory reforms in US electricity markets increased competition, resulting in more complex prices compared to other commodities. This paper aims to investigate and compare the overall and time-varying multifractality and efficiency of four major US electricity regions: Mass Hub, Mid C, Palo Verde, and PJM West. Multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis (MFDFA) is employed to better quantify the intensity of self-similarity. Large daily data from 2001 to 2021 are taken in order to make a more conclusive analysis. The four electricity market returns showed strong multifractal features with PJM West having the highest multifractality (corresponding to lowest efficiency) and Mass Hub having the lowest multifractality (i.e., highest efficiency). Moreover, all series exhibited mean reverting (anti-persistent) behavior in the overall time period. The findings of MFDFA rolling window suggest Palo Verde as the most volatile index, while a significant upward trend in the efficiency of Mass Hub and PJM West is observed after the first quarter of 2014. The novel findings have important implications for policymakers, regulatory authorities, and decision makers to forecast electricity prices better and control efficiency. Full article
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Article
Are You a Typical Energy Consumer? Socioeconomic Characteristics of Behavioural Segmentation Representatives of 8 European Countries
Energies 2021, 14(19), 6109; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14196109 - 25 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 377
Abstract
Scarcity of resources and their waste, as well as deteriorating quality of life and the environment, are pressing problems of modern civilisations. Rational and efficient energy consumption is one of the possibilities for preventing harmful practices and the degradation of ecosystems. Understanding the [...] Read more.
Scarcity of resources and their waste, as well as deteriorating quality of life and the environment, are pressing problems of modern civilisations. Rational and efficient energy consumption is one of the possibilities for preventing harmful practices and the degradation of ecosystems. Understanding the consumer’s way of thinking and acting by identifying his needs and preferences are essential for effective efforts for smart, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth. Therefore, the aim of this article was a comprehensive socioeconomic analysis of particular behavioural types of energy consumers, as a continuation of the authors’ previous research. The paper uses statistical methods (chi-square test and correspondence analysis) dedicated to non-metric variables for an effective analysis of the data obtained from the questionnaires. The identification of socioeconomic factors was carried out on a representative sample of n = 4506 respondents from eight European countries (the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Poland, Romania, and the United Kingdom). This allowed for distinguishing a typical representative of five consumer segments (EI; AE; DS; O; I), developed on the basis of motivation to save energy. The authors succeeded in combining behavioural segmentation with the socioeconomic characteristics of the created classes. The results indicated that 10 out of 12 examined factors were significantly correlated with the behavioural type. These are (in order of significance): attitude towards saving energy; age; employment status; home country; the ownership status of the premises; the number of people in a household; average monthly income per person in a household; education; gender and place of residence. Full article
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Article
The Role of Discounting in Energy Policy Investments
Energies 2021, 14(19), 6055; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14196055 - 23 Sep 2021
Viewed by 271
Abstract
For informing future energy policy decisions, it is essential to choose the correct social discount rate (SDR) for ex-ante economic evaluations. Generally, costs and benefits—both economic and environmental—are weighted through a single constant discount rate. This leads to excessive discounting of the present [...] Read more.
For informing future energy policy decisions, it is essential to choose the correct social discount rate (SDR) for ex-ante economic evaluations. Generally, costs and benefits—both economic and environmental—are weighted through a single constant discount rate. This leads to excessive discounting of the present value of cash flows progressively more distant over time. Evaluating energy projects through constant discount rates would mean underestimating their environmental externalities. This study intends to characterize environmental–economic discounting models calibrated for energy investments, distinguishing between intra- and inter-generational projects. In both cases, the idea is to use two discounting rates: an economic rate to assess financial components and an ecological rate to weight environmental effects. For intra-generational projects, the dual discount rates are assumed to be constant over time. For inter-generational projects, the model is time-declining to give greater weight to environmental damages and benefits in the long-term. Our discounting approaches are based on Ramsey’s growth model and Gollier’s ecological discounting model; the latter is expressed as a function of an index capable of describing the performance of a country’s energy systems. With regards to the models we propose, the novelty lies in the calibration of the “environmental quality” parameter. Regarding the model for long-term projects, another innovation concerns the analysis of risk components linked to economic variables; the growth rate of consumption is modelled as a stochastic variable. The defined models were implemented to determine discount rates for both Italy and China. In both cases, the estimated discount rates are lower than those suggested by governments. This means that the use of dual discounting approaches can guide policymakers towards sustainable investment in line with UN climate neutrality objectives. Full article
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Article
Optimal Sizing of Hybrid Wind-Solar Power Systems to Suppress Output Fluctuation
Energies 2021, 14(17), 5377; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14175377 - 30 Aug 2021
Viewed by 614
Abstract
Harnessing wind energy is one of the fastest-growing areas in the energy industry. However, wind power still faces challenges, such as output intermittency due to its nature and output reduction as a result of the wake effect. Moreover, the current practice uses the [...] Read more.
Harnessing wind energy is one of the fastest-growing areas in the energy industry. However, wind power still faces challenges, such as output intermittency due to its nature and output reduction as a result of the wake effect. Moreover, the current practice uses the available renewable energy resources as a fuel-saver simply to reduce fossil-fuel consumption. This is related mainly to the inherently variable and non-dispatchable nature of renewable energy resources, which poses a threat to power system reliability and requires utilities to maintain power-balancing reserves to match the supply from renewable energy resources with the real-time demand levels. Thus, further efforts are needed to mitigate the risk that comes with integrating renewable resources into the electricity grid. Hence, an integrated strategy is being created to determine the optimal size of the hybrid wind-solar photovoltaic power systems (HWSPS) using heuristic optimization with a numerical iterative algorithm such that the output fluctuation is minimized. The research focuses on sizing the HWSPS to reduce the impact of renewable energy resource intermittency and generate the maximum output power to the grid at a constant level periodically based on the availability of the renewable energy resources. The process of determining HWSPS capacity is divided into two major steps. A genetic algorithm is used in the initial stage to identify the optimum wind farm. A numerical iterative algorithm is used in the second stage to determine the optimal combination of photovoltaic plant and battery sizes in the search space, based on the reference wind power generated by the moving average, Savitzky–Golay, Gaussian and locally weighted linear regression techniques. The proposed approach has been tested on an existing wind power project site in the southern part of the Sultanate of Oman using a real weather data. The considered land area dimensions are 2 × 2 km. The integrated tool resulted in 39 MW of wind farm, 5.305 MW of PV system, and 0.5219 MWh of BESS. Accordingly, the estimated cost of energy based on the HWSPS is 0.0165 EUR/kWh. Full article
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Article
Life Cycle Assessment for Integration of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells into Gas Processing Operations
Energies 2021, 14(15), 4668; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14154668 - 01 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 478
Abstract
The oil and gas industry generates a significant amount of harmful greenhouse gases that cause irreversible environmental impact; this fact is exacerbated by the world’s utter dependence on fossil fuels as a primary energy source and low-efficiency oil and gas operation plants. Integration [...] Read more.
The oil and gas industry generates a significant amount of harmful greenhouse gases that cause irreversible environmental impact; this fact is exacerbated by the world’s utter dependence on fossil fuels as a primary energy source and low-efficiency oil and gas operation plants. Integration of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) into natural gas plants can enhance their operational efficiencies and reduce emissions. However, a systematic analysis of the life cycle impacts of SOFC integration in natural gas operations is necessary to quantitatively and comparatively understand the potential benefits. This study presents a systematic cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) based on the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards using a planar anode-supported SOFC with a lifespan of ten years and a functional unit of one MW electricity output. The analysis primarily focused on global warming, acidification, eutrophication, and ozone potentials in addition to human health particulate matter and human toxicity potentials. The total global warming potential (GWP) of a 1 MW SOFC for 10 years in Qatar conditions is found to be 2,415,755 kg CO2 eq., and the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact is found to be higher during the operation phase than the manufacturing phase, rating 71% and 29%, respectively. Full article
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Article
Influence of Population Income on Energy Consumption for Heating and Its CO2 Emissions in Cities
Energies 2021, 14(15), 4531; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14154531 - 27 Jul 2021
Viewed by 443
Abstract
As a result of the increase in city populations, and the high energy consumption and emissions of buildings, cities in general, and buildings in particular, are the focus of attention for public organizations and utilities. Heating is among the largest consumers of energy [...] Read more.
As a result of the increase in city populations, and the high energy consumption and emissions of buildings, cities in general, and buildings in particular, are the focus of attention for public organizations and utilities. Heating is among the largest consumers of energy in buildings. This study examined the influence of the income of inhabitants on the consumption of energy for heating and the CO2 emissions in city buildings. The study was carried out using equivalized disposable income as the basis for the analysis and considered the economies of scale of households. The results are shown per inhabitant and household, by independently considering each city. Furthermore, to more clearly identify the influence of the population income, the study was also carried out without considering the influence of the climate. The method was implemented in the case of Spain. For this purpose, Spanish cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants were analyzed. The results show that, both per inhabitant and per household, the higher the income of the inhabitants, the greater the consumption of energy for heating and the greater the emissions in the city. This research aimed to help energy utilities and policy makers make appropriate decisions, namely, planning for the development of facilities that do not produce greenhouse gases, and enacting laws to achieve sustainable economies, respectively. The overall aim is to achieve the objective of mitigating the impact of emissions and the scarcity of energy resources. Full article
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Review

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Review
Review of Renewable Energy Potentials in Indonesia and Their Contribution to a 100% Renewable Electricity System
Energies 2021, 14(21), 7033; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14217033 - 27 Oct 2021
Viewed by 662
Abstract
Indonesia has an increasing electricity demand that is mostly met with fossil fuels. Although Indonesia plans to ramp up Renewable Energy Technologies (RET), implementation has been slow. This is unfortunate, as the RET potential in Indonesia might be higher than currently assumed given [...] Read more.
Indonesia has an increasing electricity demand that is mostly met with fossil fuels. Although Indonesia plans to ramp up Renewable Energy Technologies (RET), implementation has been slow. This is unfortunate, as the RET potential in Indonesia might be higher than currently assumed given the archipelago’s size. However, there is no literature overview of RET potentials in Indonesia and to what extent they can meet current and future electricity demand coverage. This paper reviews contemporary literature on the potential of nine RET in Indonesia and analyses their impact in terms of area and demand coverage. The study concludes that Indonesia hosts massive amounts of renewable energy resources on both land and sea. The potentials in the academic and industrial literature tend to be considerably larger than the ones from the Indonesian Energy Ministry on which current energy policies are based. Moreover, these potentials could enable a 100% renewables electricity system and meet future demand with limited impact on land availability. Nonetheless, the review showed that the research topic is still under-researched with three detected knowledge gaps, namely the lack of (i) economic RET potentials, (ii) research on the integrated spatial potential mapping of several RET and (iii) empirical data on natural resources. Lastly, this study provides research and policy recommendations to promote RET in Indonesia. Full article
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