Special Issue "Life Cycle Assessment and Related Systems-Thinking Approaches for Sustainability of Energy and Water Infrastructures"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Lisa Colosi-Peterson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering Systems and Environment, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Tel. 434-924-7961
Interests: water and wastewater treatment; sustainable energy and fuels; life cycle assessment (LCA); sustainability metrics

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Energy and water systems are interrelated, insofar as energy is required to produce clean water, and water is required to produce usable energy, i.e., the so-called “water–energy nexus”. Our world needs innovative, implementable technology solutions that will help navigate tradeoffs between energy and water, ultimately harmonizing the sustainability of both while also mitigating climate change.

The path forward for sustainable energy will likely make use of a mix of technologies, including some with known high water footprints (e.g., bioenergy, CO2 capture and storage) and others with, hopefully, lower water footprints (e.g., solar PV and wind energy). It remains to be seen what impacts these technologies will have once they are implemented at large scale. The diversity, uncertainty, and significant logistical challenges associated with the implementation of pertinent energy technologies makes it worthwhile to utilize life-cycle assessment and related systems-thinking tools, to anticipate and evaluate possible water–energy futures. Doing so will help balance water, energy, and climate priorities in a way that paves the way for the achievement of sustainable development goals and increased quality of life in developing and developed countries.

We warmly welcome submissions advancing the knowledge base in this area, with special interest in the following topics, as they intersect the interrelationships between water and energy:

  • Environmental life cycle assessments (LCA) of present and future energy systems
    • Including LCAs for developing country scenarios
    • Including technological assessments for novel energy pathways;
  • Improvements in life-cycle methodologies or approaches
    • Incorporating novel impacts/endpoints for better characterization of environmental burdens
    • Incorporating spatially and/or temporally explicit data
    • Utilizing probabilistic frameworks for enhancing decision-making under high uncertainty;
  • Alternative systems frameworks to supplement or complement traditional LCA
    • Incorporating social perspectives in life-cycle studies
    • Utilizing cost-benefit analyses, techno-economic analyses, and/or energy footprint analyses.

Prof. Dr. Lisa Colosi-Peterson
Guest Editor

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 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 1800 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.


  • water–energy nexus
  • life-cycle assessment (LCA)
  • systems thinking
  • sustainable development

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Potable Reuse of Coalbed Methane-Produced Waters in Developing Country Contexts—Could the Benefits Outweigh the Costs to Facilitate Coal Transitions?
Energies 2020, 13(1), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13010154 - 28 Dec 2019
Development of coalbed methane (CBM) projects is critical to the achievement of climate change goals because it will help facilitate coal-to-gas transitions in Asia-Pacific countries with low conventional gas reserves. However, growth in CBM in these regions will necessitate strategic, sustainable approaches to [...] Read more.
Development of coalbed methane (CBM) projects is critical to the achievement of climate change goals because it will help facilitate coal-to-gas transitions in Asia-Pacific countries with low conventional gas reserves. However, growth in CBM in these regions will necessitate strategic, sustainable approaches to produced water management. We posit that it may be possible to deliver synergistic water, energy, and health benefits by reusing CBM-produced waters as potable water supply in water-stressed coal-bearing regions. The goal of this study is to probabilistically evaluate life cycle costs and benefits of using reverse osmosis to treat CBM-produced water in the Damodar Valley coalfields in eastern India. Two treatment configurations are assessed, namely, centralized, and decentralized (i.e., in-home). We find that both configurations offer good cost-effectiveness based on two separately computed metrics to account for the value of health improvement benefits (i.e., disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) averted or monetized health benefits). We also observe that centralized systems are more cost-effective than decentralized, because they reduce capital cost and use-phase energy consumption per unit-volume treated. Average estimated values for the cost–benefit ratio are <0.5 and 1.0 for centralized and decentralized, respectively. Normalizing by anticipated health benefits, cost-effectiveness metrics are <$30/DALY for the centralized system versus <$200/DALY for the decentralized system. These results are highly sensitive to the value of statistical life and baseline water access. A related analysis taking into account both CBM-produced waters and mine waters revealed that deployment of reverse osmosis (RO) could provide drinking to approximately 3.5 million people over 20 years in the Damodar Valley region. These results have interesting implications not only for the study region but also for other CBM-producing countries experiencing chronic severe water stress. Full article
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