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Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2022) | Viewed by 15446

Special Issue Editors

School of Economics and Management, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
Interests: ecological economics; ecological accounting; resource nexus
School of Soil and Water Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
Interests: renewable energy and climate change; land use and land cover change; socio-hydrology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Based on IEA's Renewables 2019 report, renewables contributed 26% to global electricity generation in 2018. The share would be expected to increase significantly over the next decades  for the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable energy system.

Renewable energy is closely related to lots of technical, social, political, economic, and environmental issues. The wide social acceptance is critical to a bright prospect of renewable energy infrastructure. Renewable energy systems offer a possibility for more democratic energy futures. There have been growing concerns about the environmental issues of renewable energy, such as the life-cycle environmental impact, the scrap and waste management. The nexus between renewable energy and land/water use also attracts extensive attention recently. All these issues can be relevant to sustainability. The meaning is twofold; one is to achieve sustainable development of a renewable energy system and the other is how the renewables can help with sustainability.

This Special Issue aims to collect advances on sustainability in renewable energy. We invite the authors to contribute to this issue by submitting their original work in terms of comprehensive reviews, case studies, or research articles. Researches related to the keywords below are welcomed.

Dr. Ling Shao
Dr. Xudong Wu
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 2400 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

  • renewable energy and carbon-neutral prospect
  • renewable energy policy and management
  • life cycle assessment of renewable energy
  • renewable energy development in urban/rural area
  • energy, food and water nexus
  • renewable energy technology and engineering practice
  • modelling for renewable energy systems
  • renewable energy and land use change
  • renewable energy and climate change
  • renewable energy deployment and soil and water loss

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

21 pages, 2448 KiB  
Article
Understanding Conditioning Factors for Hydroelectric Development in Chile: Bases for Community Acceptance
by Cristian Escobar-Avaria, Rodrigo Fuster, Katherinne Silva-Urrutia, Carl Bauer and Andrés de la Fuente
Sustainability 2022, 14(22), 15224; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142215224 - 16 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1903
Abstract
Chile has defined an energy development policy in which hydropower is an important part of the energy grid. This energy source has not yet been accepted by many people in local communities. For future hydroelectric development to be more widely accepted, the Chilean [...] Read more.
Chile has defined an energy development policy in which hydropower is an important part of the energy grid. This energy source has not yet been accepted by many people in local communities. For future hydroelectric development to be more widely accepted, the Chilean Ministry of Energy developed a methodological framework called Objects of Valuation. This framework is aimed at identifying the main community interests that may condition hydroelectric development. The objective of this paper is to analyze the scope of the framework based on a review of the scientific literature and information generated through participatory activities in three basins that have high hydropower potential. Analyzing the results obtained from the application of the framework, four complementary intangible factors not represented by the framework are identified: the lack of validation of a formal participatory process, under-recognition of different worldviews, distrust regarding the development of hydroelectricity, and a sense of self-determination in the community. These factors could potentially condition community acceptance of hydroelectricity, thereby limiting the framework as a decision-making tool. We recommend that this methodological framework should be complemented by the incorporation of intangible elements in the decision-making process, using a systematic tool applicable to spatial planning and strategic environmental-assessment processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development)
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19 pages, 3661 KiB  
Article
Integrated Stochastic Life Cycle Assessment and Techno-Economic Analysis for Shrub Willow Production in the Northeastern United States
by Jenny Frank, Obste Therasme, Timothy A. Volk, Tristan Brown, Robert W. Malmsheimer, Marie-Odile Fortier, Mark H. Eisenbies, HakSoo Ha and Justin Heavey
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9007; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14159007 - 22 Jul 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2827
Abstract
The refereed literature contains few studies that analyze life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic analysis (TEA) methodologies together for lignocellulosic bioenergy systems, using a stochastic modeling approach. This study seeks to address this gap by developing an integrated framework to quantify the environmental [...] Read more.
The refereed literature contains few studies that analyze life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic analysis (TEA) methodologies together for lignocellulosic bioenergy systems, using a stochastic modeling approach. This study seeks to address this gap by developing an integrated framework to quantify the environmental and financial impacts of producing and delivering shrub willow in the Northeastern United States. This study analyses four different scenarios from a combination of two different initial land cover types (grassland, cropland) prior to willow establishment, and two harvesting conditions (leaf-on, leaf-off). Monte Carlo simulations were performed to quantify the uncertainty of the results based on a range of financial, logistical, and biophysical variable input parameters (e.g., land rental rates, transportation distance, biomass yield, etc.). Growing willow biomass on croplands resulted in net negative GHG emissions for both leaf on and leaf off scenarios for the baseline. The GHG emissions were lowest for the leaf-off harvest on cropland (−172.50 kg CO2eq Mg−1); this scenario also had the lowest MSP ($76.41 Mg−1). The baseline grassland scenario with leaf-on harvest, results in the highest net GHG emissions (44.83 kg CO2eq Mg−1) and greatest MSP ($92.97 Mg−1). The results of this analysis provide the bioenergy field and other interested stakeholders with both environmental and financial trade-offs of willow biomass to permit informed decisions about the future expansion of willow fields in the landscape, which have the potential to contribute to GHG reduction targets and conversion into fuels, energy, or bioproducts for carbon sequestration and financial benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development)
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17 pages, 623 KiB  
Article
Business Model Innovations for Renewable Energy Prosumer Development in Germany
by Chun Xia-Bauer, Florin Vondung, Stefan Thomas and Raphael Moser
Sustainability 2022, 14(13), 7545; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14137545 - 21 Jun 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2099
Abstract
In Germany, the number of renewable energy prosumers has increased rapidly since 2000. However, the development of prosumers has faced and will continue to face various economic, social, and technological challenges, which have triggered the emergence of a number of innovative business models [...] Read more.
In Germany, the number of renewable energy prosumers has increased rapidly since 2000. However, the development of prosumers has faced and will continue to face various economic, social, and technological challenges, which have triggered the emergence of a number of innovative business models (BM). This paper enriches the empirical basis for prosumer-oriented BMs by investigating two BM innovations in Germany (P2P electricity trading and aggregation of small-size prosumers) drawing on business model and socio-technical transition theories. A mix of qualitative data collection methods, including document analysis and semi-structured expert interviews, was applied. We found that while both BMs can potentially address the challenges associated with renewable energy prosumer development in Germany, small-scale prosumers’ participation in both BMs has been limited so far. We identified various internal and external drivers and barriers for scaling up these BMs for prosumer development in Germany. Despite these barriers, both aggregation and centralized P2P targeting prosumers may potentially be also taken up by incumbent market actors such as utilities. Decentralized P2P on the other hand still faces significant internal and external barriers for upscaling. Based on the analysis, the paper provides policy recommendations with respect to the identified drivers and barriers. From a theoretical perspective, our findings provide further evidence to challenge the dichotomous understanding of niche actors and incumbents, the latter of which are often theorized to be resistant to radical innovations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development)
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15 pages, 1877 KiB  
Article
Systems Accounting for Carbon Emissions by Hydropower Plant
by Yuwen Chu, Yunlong Pan, Hongyi Zhan, Wei Cheng, Lei Huang, Zi Wu and Ling Shao
Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6939; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116939 - 6 Jun 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3361
Abstract
Hydropower is the largest renewable source of electricity generation, the carbon emissions of which have attracted a lot attention. However, the system boundaries of existing studies are either incomplete or inaccurate. Therefore, this study provides a systems accounting framework for evaluating both the [...] Read more.
Hydropower is the largest renewable source of electricity generation, the carbon emissions of which have attracted a lot attention. However, the system boundaries of existing studies are either incomplete or inaccurate. Therefore, this study provides a systems accounting framework for evaluating both the direct and indirect carbon emissions from a hydropower plant. It is based on the hybrid method as a combination of the process analysis and the input-output analysis. To demonstrate the framework, a case study for a typical pumped storage hydropower plant (NPSHP) is carried out. The total carbon emissions are estimated as 5828.39 kt in the life-cycle of the case system. The end-of-use stage causes the largest carbon emissions (38.4%), followed by the construction stage (34.5%), the operation stage (25.6%), and the preparation stage (1.5%). The direct carbon emissions are mainly released from sediments in the end-of-use stage and the surface of reservoirs in the operation stage (94.8%). The indirect carbon emissions are 2.8 times higher than the direct carbon emissions. The material, machinery, energy, and service inputs respectively account for 7.1%, 14.7%, 15.9%, and 62.3% of the total indirect carbon emissions by the case system. The indicator of EGOC (electricity generation on carbon emission) for the NPSHP is calculated as 26.06 g CO2-eq./kWh, which is lower than that of most other power plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development)
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29 pages, 57864 KiB  
Article
Energy Network Embodied in Trade along the Belt and Road: Spatiotemporal Evolution and Influencing Factors
by Yue Fu, Long Xue, Yixin Yan, Yao Pan, Xiaofang Wu and Ying Shao
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10530; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910530 - 23 Sep 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2196
Abstract
As an important part of trade in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) area, significant research attention has been devoted to direct energy transfer, whereas studies on energy embodied in non-energy products have largely been neglected. To present an overview of energy trade [...] Read more.
As an important part of trade in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) area, significant research attention has been devoted to direct energy transfer, whereas studies on energy embodied in non-energy products have largely been neglected. To present an overview of energy trade for the BRI members, this study combined multi-regional input-output (MRIO) analysis with complex network analysis to model energy use flows within the BRI’s intermediate and final trade network during 2000–2015. Results showed that intermediate energy trade volume is about 7.29-fold larger than that of final trade. Russia and Mainland China were found to be the main net exporter and net importer in intermediate energy trade, respectively, but in final energy trade their roles are reversed. In intermediate energy trade, resource exploitation and heavy industry are the leading intermediate exporter and importer respectively, whereas household consumption is the largest importer (accounting for about three-fifths of the total) in final energy trade. Based on the complex network analysis, the BRI countries were found to trade widely in the final network while cooperating deeply in the intermediate network, with obvious small-world features. Mainland China and Russia were identified as key economies in both intermediate and final trade networks. In addition, quadratic assignment procedure (QAP) analysis was adopted to explore the determinants of the BRI energy trade from 2000 to 2015. It was found that geographic distance, land adjacency, and culture and language have a consistently significant impact on intermediate trade. Closer geographic distance, being adjacent to land, a higher level of economic development, and a larger size of population can promote final trade. This study aimed to supplement existing studies on direct energy trade and provides implications for understanding the sustainable energy development in the BRI area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development)
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Review

Jump to: Research

23 pages, 3943 KiB  
Review
Exploring Current Status and Evolutionary Trends on the Paid Use of State-Owned Forest Resources in China: A Bibliometric Perspective
by Xue Wei, Chen Liang and Wenhui Chen
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5516; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095516 - 4 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1714
Abstract
State-owned forest resources occupy an important position in China, and the development of their paid use will help to improve the economic benefits of these resources. For this study, 451 journal documents involving the paid use of state-owned forest resources in the CNKI [...] Read more.
State-owned forest resources occupy an important position in China, and the development of their paid use will help to improve the economic benefits of these resources. For this study, 451 journal documents involving the paid use of state-owned forest resources in the CNKI database of China from 2008 to 2021 were selected as samples. Combining qualitative reviews with quantitative analysis, statistical analysis software was used as an analytical tool. The knowledge maps can be visualized by cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling (MDS), and co-occurrence network analysis. The change laws of this research in the time dimension were obtained using developing trend analysis. The results are as follows: 1. The number of research documents on the paid use of state-owned forest resources is increasing. 2. The core authors account for 29.27%; the research impact is relatively scattered. 3. Research institutions are primarily colleges and universities. 4. The support of provincially funded projects accounts for the highest proportion. 5. There is a relatively stable number of journals in this research field. Forestry Economy, Green Science and Technology and China Forestry Economy are the top three journals in terms of citation impact. 6. The existing research topics mainly focus on the development status of paid use, forest tourism and forest health, and the under-forestry economy (under-forestry planting, breeding, and product processing). 7. The intermediary centralities of state-owned forest farms and under-forestry economy are the highest, followed by forest tourism and forest experience, etc. With time and the promulgation of policies, the research focus in this field has gradually shifted from forest assets and forestry economics to ecotourism and forest health, and research on forest carbon sequestration is a technical branch worthy of attention in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Renewable Energy: Pathways towards Sustainable Development)
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