Special Issue "Advances in Environmental, Economic and Social Assessment of Energy Systems"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (6 December 2019).

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Diego Iribarren
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Systems Analysis Unit, IMDEA Energy, Av. Ramón de la Sagra 3, E-28935 Móstoles, Spain
Interests: data envelopment analysis; energy systems modelling; life cycle assessment; life cycle costing; multi-criteria decision analysis; sustainability assessment
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The overall energy sector calls for a transformation from a fossil-based system to a low-carbon one. At a technology level, significant efforts are made to provide energy solutions contributing to a sustainable energy system. However, the actual suitability of these solutions is often not checked. In this sense, the assessment of energy systems from a life-cycle perspective is of paramount importance when it comes to effectively planning the energy sector. While environmental issues are commonly addressed through the use of the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology, the comprehensive evaluation of the economic and social aspects of energy systems often remains ignored or underdeveloped. In fact, methodological advances in the field of energy systems are needed in order to facilitate sensible decision-making processes from a sustainability standpoint. For instance, significant efforts are needed to (i) enable the robust comparative life-cycle studies of energy technologies, (ii) evaluate socio-environmental external costs of energy technologies, (iii) evaluate the social life-cycle indicators of energy systems, (iv) develop energy models provided with life-cycle indicators for long-term energy planning, and (v) jointly interpret sustainability indicators within multi-dimensional and multi-criteria analyses.

This Special Issue welcomes scientific articles in the field of the life-cycle analysis of energy systems. These articles are expected to include a relevant methodological component by applying a novel methodological framework to relevant energy case studies. These case studies could refer to a technology, a set of technologies, or even a sector (electricity, transport, or the whole energy sector, within a given geographical scope). In addition to original articles addressing the LCA, life cycle costing (LCC), and/or social life cycle assessment (SLCA) of energy systems, works on the combination of life cycle and non-life cycle approaches for the thorough evaluation of energy systems are also welcome.

Dr. Diego Iribarren
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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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 semimonthly 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 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.

Keywords

  • Carbon footprint assessment
  • Energy planning
  • Energy systems analysis
  • Energy systems modelling
  • External cost
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle costing
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment
  • Multi-criteria decision analysis
  • Prospective life cycle assessment
  • Social life cycle assessment
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Technology roadmapping

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Geographical Potential of Solar Thermochemical Jet Fuel Production
Energies 2020, 13(4), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13040802 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1188
Abstract
The solar thermochemical fuel pathway offers the possibility to defossilize the transportation sector by producing renewable fuels that emit significantly less greenhouse gases than conventional fuels over the whole life cycle. Especially for the aviation sector, the availability of renewable liquid hydrocarbon fuels [...] Read more.
The solar thermochemical fuel pathway offers the possibility to defossilize the transportation sector by producing renewable fuels that emit significantly less greenhouse gases than conventional fuels over the whole life cycle. Especially for the aviation sector, the availability of renewable liquid hydrocarbon fuels enables climate impact goals to be reached. In this paper, both the geographical potential and life-cycle fuel production costs are analyzed. The assessment of the geographical potential of solar thermochemical fuels excludes areas based on sustainability criteria such as competing land use, protected areas, slope, or shifting sands. On the remaining suitable areas, the production potential surpasses the current global jet fuel demand by a factor of more than fifty, enabling all but one country to cover its own demand. In many cases, a single country can even supply the world demand for jet fuel. A dedicated economic model expresses the life-cycle fuel production costs as a function of the location, taking into account local financial conditions by estimating the national costs of capital. It is found that the lowest production costs are to be expected in Israel, Chile, Spain, and the USA, through a combination of high solar irradiation and low-level capital costs. The thermochemical energy conversion efficiency also has a strong influence on the costs, scaling the size of the solar concentrator. Increasing the efficiency from 15% to 25%, the production costs are reduced by about 20%. In the baseline case, the global jet fuel demand could be covered at costs between 1.58 and 1.83 €/L with production locations in South America, the United States, and the Mediterranean region. The flat progression of the cost-supply curves indicates that production costs remain relatively constant even at very high production volumes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estimation of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from a Diesel Engine Powered by Lignocellulose Derived Fuel for Better Management of Fuel Production
Energies 2020, 13(3), 561; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13030561 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 933
Abstract
Managing of wastes rich in lignocellulose creates the opportunity to produce biofuels that are in full compliance with the principles of sustainable development. Biomass, as a suitable base for the production of biofuels, does not have to be standardized, and its only important [...] Read more.
Managing of wastes rich in lignocellulose creates the opportunity to produce biofuels that are in full compliance with the principles of sustainable development. Biomass, as a suitable base for the production of biofuels, does not have to be standardized, and its only important feature is the appropriate content of lignocellulose, which assures great freedom in the selection of input. Biobutanol, obtained from this type of biomass, can be used as fuel for internal combustion engines, including diesel engines. In the era of strict environmental protection regulations, especially concerning atmospheric air, any new fuel, apart from good energetic properties, should also show beneficial ecological effects. This study investigates the carbon dioxide emissions from biobutanol powered diesel engine by means of use of the simulation model. The parameters of a real passenger car powered by a diesel engine were used for simulation carried out accordingly to the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) approval procedure as the current test for newly manufactured cars. The results obtained for biobutanol were compared with simulated exhaust emissions obtained for conventional diesel and with FAME (fatty acid methyl esters)—the most popular biofuel. Biobutanol, in spite of its higher consumption, showed lower direct carbon dioxide emissions than both: the conventional diesel and FAME. In addition, a LCA (life cycle assessment) was carried out for the fuels and vehicles in question using the SimaPro package. Therefore, the implementation of butyl alcohol as a fuel provides favorable environmental effects. This result gives arguments towards biofuel production management indicating that implementation of biobutanol production technology mitigates carbon dioxide emission, as well as promotes lignocellulosic resources rather than edible parts of the plants. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Systematic Approach to Predict the Economic and Environmental Effects of the Cost-Optimal Energy Renovation of a Historic Building District on the District Heating System
Energies 2020, 13(1), 276; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010276 - 06 Jan 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 988
Abstract
The economic and environmental performance of a district heating (DH) system is to a great extent affected by the size and dynamic behavior of the DH load. By implementing energy efficiency measures (EEMs) to increase a building’s thermal performance and by performing cost-optimal [...] Read more.
The economic and environmental performance of a district heating (DH) system is to a great extent affected by the size and dynamic behavior of the DH load. By implementing energy efficiency measures (EEMs) to increase a building’s thermal performance and by performing cost-optimal energy renovation, the operation of the DH system will be altered. This study presents a systematic approach consisting of building categorization, life cycle cost (LCC) optimization, building energy simulation and energy system optimization procedures, investigating the profitability and environmental performance of cost-optimal energy renovation of a historic building district on the DH system. The results show that the proposed approach can successfully be used to predict the economic and environmental effects of cost-optimal energy renovation of a building district on the local DH system. The results revealed that the financial gains of the district are between 186 MSEK (23%) and 218 MSEK (27%) and the financial losses for the DH system vary between 117–194 MSEK (5–8%). However, the suggested renovation measures decrease the local and global CO2 emissions by 71–75 metric ton of CO2eq./year (4%) and 3545–3727 metric ton of CO2eq./year (41–43%), respectively. Total primary energy use was decreased from 57.2 GWh/year to 52.0–52.2 GWh/year. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Multi-Criteria and Life Cycle Assessment of Wood-Based Bioenergy Alternatives for Residential Heating: A Sustainability Analysis
Energies 2019, 12(22), 4391; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12224391 - 19 Nov 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 811
Abstract
Moving towards a global bioeconomy can mitigate climate change and the depletion of fossil fuels. Within this context, this work applies a set of multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) tools to prioritise the selection of five alternative bioenergy systems for residential heating based on [...] Read more.
Moving towards a global bioeconomy can mitigate climate change and the depletion of fossil fuels. Within this context, this work applies a set of multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) tools to prioritise the selection of five alternative bioenergy systems for residential heating based on the combination of three commercial technologies (pellet, wood stove and traditional fireplace) and two different feedstocks (eucalypt and maritime pine species). Several combinations of MCDA methods and weighting approaches were compared to assess how much results can differ. Eight indicators were used for a sustainability assessment of the alternatives while four MCDA methods were applied for the prioritisation: Weighted Sum Method (WSM), Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS), Elimination and Choice Expressing Reality (ELECTRE), and Preference Ranking Organization Method for Enrichment Evaluation (PROMETHEE). Regarding the sustainability performance indicators, the highest environmental impacts were calculated for the fireplace alternatives, and there was not a best environmental option. Also, no clear trend was found for the economic and social dimensions. The application of MCDA tools shows that wood stove alternatives have the best sustainability performance, in particular wood stove with combustion of maritime pine logs (highest scores in the ranking). Regarding the worst alternative, fireplaces with combustion of eucalypt logs ranked last in all MCDA rankings. Finally, a sensitivity analysis for the weighting of the performance indicators confirmed wood stoves with combustion of maritime pine logs as the leading alternative and the key role of the analysts within this type of MCDA studies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Adsorption Capacity of Organic Compounds Using Activated Carbons in Zinc Electrowinning
Energies 2019, 12(11), 2169; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12112169 - 06 Jun 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 862
Abstract
The influence of adsorbate (D2EPHA and kerosene) on the process of zinc electrowinning from sulfuric acid electrolytes was analyzed. The main objective was to critically compare three factors: (1) Three types of activated carbon (AC); (2) adsorption temperatures and contact time; and (3) [...] Read more.
The influence of adsorbate (D2EPHA and kerosene) on the process of zinc electrowinning from sulfuric acid electrolytes was analyzed. The main objective was to critically compare three factors: (1) Three types of activated carbon (AC); (2) adsorption temperatures and contact time; and (3) zinc recovery efficiency. The results showed that organic components reduced the efficiency of zinc recovery. Moreover, wood-based ACs had a higher adsorption capacity than coal- and coconut-based ACs. To maintain a removal efficiency of 99% or more, wood-based ACs should constitute at least 60% of the adsorbate. The temperature of adsorption did not affect the removal efficiency. Additionally, the feeding rate of adsorbate in the solvent was inversely proportional to the removal efficiency. A feeding rate of the liquid pump of over 3 mL/min rapidly increased the delta pressure. For the same contact time, 99% of adsorbate removal occurred at 1 mL/min compared to approximately 97% at 0.5 mL/min. In the presence of 100 mg/L zinc, with increasing adsorbate from 0–5%, the recovery efficiency of zinc decreased from 100% to 0% and the energy consumption increased from 0.0017–0.003 kwh/kg zinc. Considering the energy consumption and zinc deposit mass, 0.1% of the adsorbate is recommended for zinc electrowinning. Full article
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