Special Issue "Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects"

A special issue of Resources (ISSN 2079-9276).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2016).

Special Issue Editors

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
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Ian Vázquez-Rowe
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Peruvian LCA Network, Department of Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Av. Universitaria 1801, San Miguel L0032, Lima, Peru
Interests: life cycle assessment; carbon footprint; fisheries; agriculture; energy systems; roads and transportation; operational research; data envelopment analysis; rainforest deforestation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The performance of the energy sector plays a leading role in economic and social development, as well as in terms of environmental issues. Thus, a suitable performance of this sector is a key factor strongly affecting overall sustainability targets. Current energy policy efforts focus on energy efficiency improvements, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and increased use of renewables without collateral concerns (e.g., avoiding competition with the food sector). Furthermore, key energy-related documents, such as IEA technology roadmaps, SET Plan issues papers and the EC energy roadmap 2050, clearly show the need for developing and applying comprehensive, holistic approaches in order to evaluate and verify the actual sustainability of current and future energy systems. In this respect, this Special Issue deals with novel developments and applications in advanced analysis of energy systems under sustainability aspects. The analytical studies submitted can address energy systems on very different scales, from single energy technologies to the whole energy sector (as well as electricity and transport sub-sectors) for a given region. The studies should cover sustainability aspects either from a multi-dimensional perspective or from the standpoint of separate dimensions (i.e., technical, economic, environmental and/or social aspects). The methodological frameworks of interest include (but are not limited to): Life cycle assessment, life cycle costing, social life cycle assessment, life cycle sustainability assessment, emergy analysis, exergy analysis, and energy planning. The novelty of the methodological solutions developed and/or applied should be clearly stated and discussed, as well as their potential relevance for decision- and policy-makers in the field of energy.

Dr. Diego Iribarren
Dr. Ian Vázquez-Rowe
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.

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. Resources is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly 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 1600 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

  • economic analysis
  • emergy
  • energy planning
  • energy system
  • exergy analysis
  • life cycle assessment
  • policy making
  • social indicator
  • sustainability

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Environmental and Energy Performance of Ethanol Production from the Integration of Sugarcane, Corn, and Grain Sorghum in a Multipurpose Plant
Resources 2017, 6(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources6010001 - 27 Dec 2016
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 3897
Abstract
Although in the last 40 years only sugarcane has been harnessed for the production of ethanol in Brazil, corn production has grown strongly in certain areas, and may serve as a supplementary feedstock for ethanol production in integrated plants during the sugarcane off-season. [...] Read more.
Although in the last 40 years only sugarcane has been harnessed for the production of ethanol in Brazil, corn production has grown strongly in certain areas, and may serve as a supplementary feedstock for ethanol production in integrated plants during the sugarcane off-season. The aim of this study is to evaluate the environmental and energy performance of ethanol production from sugarcane, corn, and grain sorghum in a Flex Mill in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil. A life cycle assessment was carried out to survey the production of ethanol from each individual feedstock, and the integration of two of these to increase production during a one-year period. Results indicate that the environmental and energy performance are greatly influenced by agricultural activities, highlighting the importance of sugarcane cultivation. Still, there was an increasing trend of Climate Change impacts, Human Toxicity (carcinogenic) and Ecotoxicity, as well as reduced impact of Photochemical Oxidant Formation and Energy Return on Investment (EROI) as the proportion of ethanol from starchy sources in integration scenarios increases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Article
A Critical Assessment of the Resource Depletion Potential of Current and Future Lithium-Ion Batteries
Resources 2016, 5(4), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040046 - 14 Dec 2016
Cited by 39 | Viewed by 6158
Abstract
Resource depletion aspects are repeatedly used as an argument for a shift towards new battery technologies. However, whether serious shortages due to the increased demand for traction and stationary batteries can actually be expected is subject to an ongoing discussion. In order to [...] Read more.
Resource depletion aspects are repeatedly used as an argument for a shift towards new battery technologies. However, whether serious shortages due to the increased demand for traction and stationary batteries can actually be expected is subject to an ongoing discussion. In order to identify the principal drivers of resource depletion for battery production, we assess different lithium-ion battery types and a new lithium-free battery technology (sodium-ion) under this aspect, applying different assessment methodologies. The findings show that very different results are obtained with existing impact assessment methodologies, which hinders clear interpretation. While cobalt, nickel and copper can generally be considered as critical metals, the magnitude of their depletion impacts in comparison with that of other battery materials like lithium, aluminum or manganese differs substantially. A high importance is also found for indirect resource depletion effects caused by the co-extraction of metals from mixed ores. Remarkably, the resource depletion potential per kg of produced battery is driven only partially by the electrode materials and thus depends comparably little on the battery chemistry itself. One of the key drivers for resource depletion seems to be the metals (and co-products) in electronic parts required for the battery management system, a component rather independent from the actual battery chemistry. However, when assessing the batteries on a capacity basis (per kWh storage capacity), a high-energy density also turns out to be relevant, since it reduces the mass of battery required for providing one kWh, and thus the associated resource depletion impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Article
Feasibility of Small Wind Turbines in Ontario: Integrating Power Curves with Wind Trends
Resources 2016, 5(4), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040044 - 07 Dec 2016
Viewed by 3208
Abstract
Micro-scale/small wind turbines, unlike larger utility-scale turbines, produce electricity at a rate of 300 W to 10 kW at their rated wind speed and are typically below 30 m in hub-height. These wind turbines have much more flexibility in their costs, maintenance and [...] Read more.
Micro-scale/small wind turbines, unlike larger utility-scale turbines, produce electricity at a rate of 300 W to 10 kW at their rated wind speed and are typically below 30 m in hub-height. These wind turbines have much more flexibility in their costs, maintenance and siting, owing to their size, and can provided wind energy in areas much less suited for direct supply to the grid system. In the future under climate change, the energy landscape will likely shift from the present centralized electricity generation and delivery system to a more distributed and locally-generated electricity and delivery system. In the new system configuration, the role of relatively small sustainable electricity generators like small wind turbines will likely become more prominent. However, the small wind industry has been substantially slow to progress in Ontario, Canada, and there is much debate over its viability in a growing energy dependent economy. This study seeks to demonstrate the performance of a small wind turbine, and speculate on its potential power output and trend over Ontario historically over the last 33 years using the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) data. We assessed the efficiency of a Bergey Excel 1 kW wind turbine at the pre-established Kortright Centre for Conservation test site, located north of Toronto. Using a novel approach, the Bergey optimized power curve was incorporated with reanalysis data to establish power output across Ontario at three-hour resolution. Small turbine-based wind power around the Great Lakes and eastern James Bay increased during winter and fall, contributing up to 10% of the annual electricity demand in some regions in Ontario. We purport that increases in power output are driven by long-term reductions in sea and lake ice concentrations affecting atmospheric stability in surrounding regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Article
Marginal Life-Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Electricity Generation in Portugal and Implications for Electric Vehicles
Resources 2016, 5(4), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040041 - 28 Nov 2016
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 4674
Abstract
This article assesses marginal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of electricity generation in Portugal to understand the impact of activities that affect electricity demand in the near term. In particular, it investigates the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Portuguese light-duty fleet considering [...] Read more.
This article assesses marginal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of electricity generation in Portugal to understand the impact of activities that affect electricity demand in the near term. In particular, it investigates the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) in the Portuguese light-duty fleet considering different displacement and charging scenarios (vehicle technologies displaced, EV charging time). Coal and natural gas were identified as the marginal sources, but their contribution to the margin depended on the hour of the day, time of year, and system load, causing marginal emissions from electricity to vary significantly. Results show that for an electricity system with a high share of non-dispatchable renewable power, such as the Portuguese system, marginal emissions are considerably higher than average emissions. Because of the temporal variability in the marginal electricity supply, the time of charging may have a major influence on the GHG emissions of EVs. Off-peak charging leads to higher GHG emissions than peak charging, due to a higher contribution of coal to the margin. Furthermore, compared to an all-conventional fleet, EV introduction causes an increase in overall GHG emissions in most cases. However, EV effects are very dependent on the time of charging and the assumptions about the displaced technology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Article
Prospective Analysis of Life-Cycle Indicators through Endogenous Integration into a National Power Generation Model
Resources 2016, 5(4), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040039 - 12 Nov 2016
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 3999
Abstract
Given the increasing importance of sustainability aspects in national energy plans, this article deals with the prospective analysis of life-cycle indicators of the power generation sector through the case study of Spain. A technology-rich, optimisation-based model for power generation in Spain is developed [...] Read more.
Given the increasing importance of sustainability aspects in national energy plans, this article deals with the prospective analysis of life-cycle indicators of the power generation sector through the case study of Spain. A technology-rich, optimisation-based model for power generation in Spain is developed and provided with endogenous life-cycle indicators (climate change, resources, and human health) to assess their evolution to 2050. Prospective performance indicators are analysed under two energy scenarios: a business-as-usual one, and an alternative scenario favouring the role of carbon dioxide capture in the electricity production mix by 2050. Life-cycle impacts are found to decrease substantially when existing fossil technologies disappear in the mix (especially coal thermal power plants). In the long term, the relatively high presence of natural gas arises as the main source of impact. When the installation of new fossil options without CO2 capture is forbidden by 2030, both renewable technologies and—to a lesser extent—fossil technologies with CO2 capture are found to increase their contribution to electricity production. The endogenous integration of life-cycle indicators into energy models proves to boost the usefulness of both life cycle assessment and energy systems modelling in order to support decision- and policy-making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Article
Environmental Impacts of Rare Earth Mining and Separation Based on Eudialyte: A New European Way
Resources 2016, 5(4), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040032 - 27 Oct 2016
Cited by 33 | Viewed by 5399
Abstract
Neodymium and dysprosium are two rare earth elements (REEs), out of a group of 17 elements. Due to their unique properties, REEs gained increasing importance in many new technologies, like wind turbines, batteries, etc. However, the production of REEs requires high material and [...] Read more.
Neodymium and dysprosium are two rare earth elements (REEs), out of a group of 17 elements. Due to their unique properties, REEs gained increasing importance in many new technologies, like wind turbines, batteries, etc. However, the production of REEs requires high material and energy consumption and is associated with considerable environmental burdens. Due to the strong dependency of European industry on Chinese REE exports, this paper presents a possible European production chain of REEs based on the mineral eudialyte found in Norra Kärr (Sweden). This European production is compared to a Chinese route, as China produces more than 85% of today’s REEs. Bayan Obo as the largest REE deposit in China is considered as the reference system. Using the life cycle assessment method, the environmental impacts of both production lines are assessed. This study presents newly-estimated data of a possible Swedish eudialyte-based production route for Europe. Results for the new eudialyte process route show reduced environmental burdens, although the total REE content in eudialyte is much smaller than in the Bayan Obo deposit. Especially, the results for dysprosium from eudialyte outreach those for Bayan Obo due to the higher content of heavy rare earth elements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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Review

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Review
Resilience Thinking as an Interdisciplinary Guiding Principle for Energy System Transitions
Resources 2016, 5(4), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040030 - 29 Sep 2016
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3390
Abstract
Resource usage and environmental consequences of most current energy systems exceed planetary boundaries. The transition to sustainable energy systems is accompanied by a multitude of research methods, as energy systems are complex structures of technical, economical, social and ecological interactions. The description of [...] Read more.
Resource usage and environmental consequences of most current energy systems exceed planetary boundaries. The transition to sustainable energy systems is accompanied by a multitude of research methods, as energy systems are complex structures of technical, economical, social and ecological interactions. The description of different discipline’s perspectives in this paper show that a more mutual understanding between disciplines of their respective focus is necessary as they partly create internally competitive views arising from differing emphasis of connected matters. The purpose of this paper is to present a framework for interdisciplinary proceeding in a complex energy system transition process. Resilience thinking is chosen as a core concept for a more holistic view on sustainable energy system development. It is shown that it is already widely used in different disciplines connected to energy system research and is especially suitable due to its wide application across disciplines. The seven principles of resilience thinking (maintain redundancy and diversity, manage connectivity, manage slow variables and feedback, foster complex adaptive systems thinking, encourage learning, broaden participation, and promote polycentric governance systems) are chosen as the basis for a procedure that can be utilized to increase the interdisciplinary perspectives of energy system transitions. For energy transition processes based on scenario development, backcasting and pathway definition, resilience thinking principles are used to assess the resilience of the target energy system, the pathway resilience and the design of the scenario process with respect to the probability of a resilient outcome. The described procedure consisting of questions and parameters can be applied as a first attempt for a resilience assessment of energy transition processes. The perspective of resilience in sustainable energy systems strengthens the importance of diversity, redundancy and flexibility, which reduces the current dominant focus on efficiency of the overall system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Analysis of Energy Systems under Sustainability Aspects)
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