Special Issue "International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Bing Xue
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam, 14467, Potsdam, Germany
Interests: human–natural system analysis; energy sustainability and policy; industrial ecology
Dr. Sophia Becker
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam, 14467, Potsdam, Germany
Interests: interventions for sustainable mobility behavior; consumer behavior and sustainability transformation
Prof. Dr. Guotian Cai
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 510640 Guangzhou, China
Interests: energy geography; energy system governance; low carbon development
Prof. Dr. Beijia Huang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, 200093 Shanghai, China
Interests: low carbon development; life cycle assessment; energy sustainability and evaluation
Prof. Dr. Wanxia Ren
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Interests: industrial ecology; co-benefits approach; energy policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As an essential factor for sustainable development, energy plays a vital role in modern lifestyles in any country, therefore to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” has been identified as Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Meanwhile, given the fact that two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions come from energy sectors, a low-carbon oriented energy transition is the core for meeting the central goal of the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the average global temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.

Many countries around the world are embarking on transitions to sustainable energy systems. For example, both in China and Germany, energy transition towards a sustainable future has become a long-term national strategy. In fact, energy transition is a massive work that, not only depends on local activities, but also needs tight international cooperation. Furthermore, to make the energy transition a success story, more efforts should be made, for instance, to gain a deeper understanding of the complex networked energy system in all sectors (electricity, transportation, heat) and related fields, or to show options for action on how the components of the future energy system can be systematically integrated taking into account the energy policy objectives and boundary conditions as precisely as possible.

This Special Issue aims to fill in such a gap, by encouraging submissions that fit the abovementioned directions in research and practices. Recommended topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • energy transition in economic sectors (particularly in heating, power, transport, and industrial sectors)
  • energy transition from social and environmental perspective
  • consumer and public behavior in the energy transition process
  • innovation on energy policy packages
  • international comparative studies
  • indicators in energy system
  • new methods and modelling

Please do not hesitate to contact one of us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your submission. You are welcome to send us an abstract of your paper by 30 April 2018 before submitting the full manuscript.

All submitted manuscripts that are considered for publication in the Special Issue by the Guest Editors will undergo blind peer-review by external reviewers.

Dr. Bing Xue
Dr. Sophia Becker
Prof. Dr. Guotian Cai
Prof. Dr. Beijia Huang
Prof. Dr. Wanxia Ren
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. Sustainability 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.

Keywords

  • Energy transition
  • System integration
  • Energy governance
  • Sustainability
  • Low Carbon
  • Energy behavior

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessCommunication
Does Combined Heat and Power Play the Role of a Bridge in Energy Transition? Evidence from a Cross-Country Analysis
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1035; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041035 - 16 Feb 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
In an era of energy transition involving an increase in renewable energy and a reduction in coal-fired power generation and nuclear power generation, the role of combined heat and power (CHP) as a bridging energy is highly emphasized. This article attempts to look [...] Read more.
In an era of energy transition involving an increase in renewable energy and a reduction in coal-fired power generation and nuclear power generation, the role of combined heat and power (CHP) as a bridging energy is highly emphasized. This article attempts to look empirically into the impact of increasing the share of renewable energy in total electricity generation on CHP share in total electricity generation in a cross-country context. Data from 35 countries during the period 2009–2015 were used, and the least absolute deviations estimator was applied to obtain a more robust parameter estimate. The results showed that a 1%p increase in the share of renewable energy significantly increased the CHP share by 0.87%p. Therefore, the hypothesis that CHP serves as bridge energy in the process of energy transition was established. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Economic-Environmental Efficiency of Energy Consumption and Spatial Patterns in China
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 591; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030591 - 23 Jan 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The improvement of energy consumption efficiency represents a significant task and a critical step toward sustainable energy transformations. This study uses a data envelopment analysis (DEA) and spatial autocorrelation method to conduct comprehensive measurement and assessment research on the economic-environmental efficiency of energy [...] Read more.
The improvement of energy consumption efficiency represents a significant task and a critical step toward sustainable energy transformations. This study uses a data envelopment analysis (DEA) and spatial autocorrelation method to conduct comprehensive measurement and assessment research on the economic-environmental efficiency of energy consumption in 31 Chinese provinces. It then carries out a synthetic study on energy consumption efficiency in the context of temporal and spatial dimensions, analyzes the characteristics and patterns related to temporal and spatial evolution, and systematically summarizes the temporal and spatial evolution processes associated with China’s economic-environmental efficiency in energy consumption. The results show that economic efficiency and environmental efficiency, both directly related to energy consumption, are positively correlated and display a parallel and synchronizing relationship. China’s energy consumption efficiency displays an upward trend in general, although differences exist between economic efficiency and environmental efficiency about the growth rate and overall development level. In other words, economic efficiency is generally higher than environmental efficiency. A positive spatial correlation occurs between economic and environmental efficiency in energy consumption across all the Chinese provinces studied. Furthermore, some cluster characteristic can be identified. Accurately, the eastern coastal area of China with a higher efficiency represents a spatial cluster of high values, whereas the midwestern inland area of China with a lower efficiency represents a spatial cluster of low values. Therefore, a descending pattern is displayed from the east to the west. As time goes by, the extent of clustering could become more prominent, accompanied by an increasing spatial cluster of high values and a decreasing spatial cluster of low values. Accordingly, China needs to improve its energy consumption efficiency further and promote sustainable energy transformations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Energy Sustainability Using the Pressure-State-Response and Improved Matter-Element Extension Models: Case Study of China
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010290 - 08 Jan 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Most existing studies on energy sustainability have focused on qualitative research. Few studies have applied quantitative methods, and there has not been a systematic review of energy sustainability. To fill this gap, this study first developed a sustainable energy evaluation index system consisting [...] Read more.
Most existing studies on energy sustainability have focused on qualitative research. Few studies have applied quantitative methods, and there has not been a systematic review of energy sustainability. To fill this gap, this study first developed a sustainable energy evaluation index system consisting of 20 indicators across the three dimensions of economy, energy, and environment based on the pressure-state-response (PSR) model. The weights of these indicators were then determined in conjunction with the weighting method. Finally, the matter-element extension method was improved to quantify energy sustainability. The proposed method was applied to evaluate China’s energy sustainability status from 2000 to 2015. The results show that China’s status continued to improve; however, it remained at a low level. To improve China’s energy sustainability, more efforts are needed in the economic, energy, and environmental dimensions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
The Evolution of International Scientific Collaboration in Fuel Cells during 1998–2017: A Social Network Perspective
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4790; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124790 - 15 Dec 2018
Abstract
International scientific collaboration has played an important role in the development of fuel cell technology. In this paper, we employ bibliometric methods and social network analysis to explore the patterns and dynamics of scientific collaboration network of fuel cells. A total of 20,358 [...] Read more.
International scientific collaboration has played an important role in the development of fuel cell technology. In this paper, we employ bibliometric methods and social network analysis to explore the patterns and dynamics of scientific collaboration network of fuel cells. A total of 20,358 international collaborative publications in the fuel cell field published during 1998–2017 were collected from Web of Science. We use a series of indicators to address multiple facets of research collaboration and evolution patterns. Results show that international collaboration has been increasing and the characteristics of the scientific network have changed over time. The collaboration network presented a highly uneven distribution, while the sign of decline began to show. The trend of consolidation was presented with one cluster around North America–Asia, one around Europe, and a small emerging collaborating cluster around West Asia. European and North American countries had relatively higher international collaboration rate than Asian countries but lower publishing volume. Two modes of international collaboration exist: Germany, France and UK collaborate with a wide range of countries, while Singapore, Australia, South Korea and Taiwan concentrate on collaborating with few main countries. Microbial fuel cell had developed as a new prominent area in the international collaboration, and the most popular catalysts were nanoparticle and graphene/carbon nanotubes. This study presents a picture of international collaboration from multi-dimension view and provides insights in facilitating more vigorous collaborations in fuel cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
Residential Energy Sustainability in China and Germany: The Impact of National Energy Policy System
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4535; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124535 - 01 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The energy consumption and carbon emission of Chinese households is growing rapidly and will continue to do so for the near future. Currently, Chinese energy policies mainly focus on the industrial sector instead of the residential sector. Among industrialized countries, Germany has performed [...] Read more.
The energy consumption and carbon emission of Chinese households is growing rapidly and will continue to do so for the near future. Currently, Chinese energy policies mainly focus on the industrial sector instead of the residential sector. Among industrialized countries, Germany has performed relatively well in the residential sector, which can provide valuable lessons for China. This paper investigates the policy-making, implementation, and resulting patterns of Chinese and German residential energy policies from a multi-level perspective. The policy system study provides a holistic view over the factors influencing residential energy sustainability. The main findings are: (1) the German residential energy policy system follows a hybrid policy model, combining top-down and bottom-up policy designs, with more demand-side or market-oriented policies, and a high level of public participation, resulting in remarkable headway toward sustainability in the residential energy sector; and (2) the Chinese energy policy system is characterized by top-down, supply-side oriented market policies with limited public participation. The policy implication of this study for China is to shift its top-down policy paradigm to a hybrid policy model that facilitates public participation in the residential energy sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
Surveying the Solar Power Gap: Assessing the Spatial Distribution of Emerging Photovoltaic Solar Adoption in the State of Georgia, U.S.A.
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4117; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114117 - 09 Nov 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Despite a global push in the development and implementation of widespread alternative energy use, significant disparities exist across given nation-states. These disparities reflect both technical and economic factors, as well as the social, political, and ecological gaps between how communities see energy development [...] Read more.
Despite a global push in the development and implementation of widespread alternative energy use, significant disparities exist across given nation-states. These disparities reflect both technical and economic factors, as well as the social, political, and ecological gaps between how communities see energy development and national/global policy goals. Known as the “local-national gap”, many nations struggle with fostering meaningful conversations about the role of alternative energy technologies within communities. Mitigation of this problem first requires understanding the distribution of existing alternative energy technologies at the local level of policymaking. To address the limitation of existing adoption trend analysis at the scale of local governance (e.g., county governments), this paper demonstrates a novel method for contextualizing solar technology adoption by using the State of Georgia in the United States as an exemplar. Leveraging existing work on the Gini Coefficient as a metric for measuring energy inequity, we argue these tools can be applied to analyze where gaps exist in ongoing solar adoption trends. As we demonstrate, communities that adopt solar tend to be concentrated in a few counties, indicating existing conversations are limited to a circumscribed set of social networks. This information and the model we demonstrate can enable focused qualitative analyses of existing solar trends, not only among high-adoption areas but within communities where little to no adoption has occurred. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
Pattern-Based Set Partitioning Algorithm for the Integrated Sustainable Operation of a District Heating Network
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2774; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082774 - 06 Aug 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
District heating is a system of distributing heated water from centralized facilities to local homes and buildings. In this paper, we model the distribution planning problem as a supply chain planning problem and propose an explicit column generation algorithm to handle large-scale data [...] Read more.
District heating is a system of distributing heated water from centralized facilities to local homes and buildings. In this paper, we model the distribution planning problem as a supply chain planning problem and propose an explicit column generation algorithm to handle large-scale data and nonlinear constraints. The algorithm is successfully applied to a Korean district heating company and computational experiments show that the integrated operation of the district heating network increases the total profit compared to previous isolated networks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Open AccessArticle
Do People Place More Value on Natural Gas Than Coal for Power Generation to Abate Particulate Matter Emissions? Evidence from South Korea
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1740; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061740 - 25 May 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
As of 2017, coal is responsible for about half of all power generation in South Korea, while natural gas (NG) is responsible for about 20%. This increases particulate matter (PM) emissions, as coal emits 6 to 55 times more PM than NG in [...] Read more.
As of 2017, coal is responsible for about half of all power generation in South Korea, while natural gas (NG) is responsible for about 20%. This increases particulate matter (PM) emissions, as coal emits 6 to 55 times more PM than NG in the course of power generation. Increased PM concentration causes visibility impairment and acute respiratory diseases. Thus, the South Korean government is seeking to shift from coal to NG power generation for the purpose of abating PM emissions. The government also considers NG as a bridge energy to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This article attempts to answer the question, “Do people place significant value on shifting from coal to NG power generation in order to abate PM?” To this end, additional willingness to pay (WTP) for NG over coal for electricity for the purpose of PM emissions abatement was assessed from 1000 South Koreans’ contingent valuations (CV). More specifically, each of these randomly chosen interviewees was asked about her/his WTP for the switch from coal to NG for 1 kWh of electricity use. The average additional WTP estimate was KRW 31.27 (USD 0.028) per kWh, which is equivalent to 28.8% of the average price of electricity in 2017. Moreover, this estimate is statistically significant. The generation cost of NG is about KRW 100.13 per kWh, which is higher than that of coal (KRW 78.5 per kWh). The gap is KRW 22.08 per kWh, which is less than the additional WTP. Thus, it is obvious that the governmental policy of shifting from coal to NG for power generation in order to abate PM emissions is supported by the public and, hence, the shift should be made gradually. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
Open AccessArticle
The Effects of an Energy Use Paradigm Shift on Carbon Emissions: A Simulation Study
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1639; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051639 - 19 May 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Carbon dioxide emissions in developing countries are closely tied to their economy and play a crucial role in the world’s future emissions. In this paper, we put forward an alternative energy use paradigm shift of low-carbon emissions from operational, governance, institutional, and cultural [...] Read more.
Carbon dioxide emissions in developing countries are closely tied to their economy and play a crucial role in the world’s future emissions. In this paper, we put forward an alternative energy use paradigm shift of low-carbon emissions from operational, governance, institutional, and cultural viewpoints (OGIC). An urbanization factor is introduced into the Kaya identity, and three simulations are conducted to forecast the carbon footprint and to explore the effects of the energy use paradigm shift policy. The simulation results show that, in the context of the energy use paradigm shift, the years 2015 and 2024 are the two inflection points that separate the carbon footprint into three periods of extensive consumption (2000–2015), early energy transition (2016–2023), and late energy transition (2024–2030). Overall, the peak carbon emission value is forecasted to appear during the third stage. The findings are expected to demonstrate the effects of the energy use paradigm shift on carbon emissions and assist policy makers formulate a scientific policy framework for low carbon development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Features, Driving Forces and Transition of the Household Energy Consumption in China: A Review
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1186; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041186 - 23 Feb 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Household energy consumption has been a major contributor to the increase in global energy demand and carbon emission, and the household sector has also become one of the most crucial factors shaping the management of developments towards sustainability. However, there is still a [...] Read more.
Household energy consumption has been a major contributor to the increase in global energy demand and carbon emission, and the household sector has also become one of the most crucial factors shaping the management of developments towards sustainability. However, there is still a knowledge gap regarding the household energy consumption in China. Due to the vast territory and the differences among regional conditions, it is critical to conduct a systemic review to illustrate the overall situation as well as the detailed mechanisms of the household energy consumption in China. By employing both qualitative and quantitative methods, two key features of the household energy consumption in China are presented; one is regarding the total amount and the structure of the household energy consumption, and the second is the significant urban-rural gap. The driving forces are investigated from the perspective of external determinants and internal determinants, which consist of seven key factors; finally, the transition roadmap towards the sustainable energy system for the household level are presented based on the text analysis from the four key policy documents. Weaknesses in the current research on the energy geography of household level also exist, such as the lack of single factor research and the lack of integration and comprehensive analysis. Therefore, future studies need to strengthen the research of regional household energy consumption structure, spatial-temporal process, and its motivation mechanism, and sustainable development of energy, so as to explore space-social structure of household energy consumption and spatial-temporal interaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Perspectives on Sustainable Energy Transition)
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