Energy supply is essential for the functioning and well-being of a society. Decision-makers are faced with the challenge to balance burdens and benefits of energy supply practices with the aim to achieve environmental, economic, and social sustainability. Literature exhibits a broad variety of sustainability assessment frameworks for energy supply technologies. However, there is no consensus on which aspects need to be covered for a comprehensive assessment of sustainability. While some aspects, such as environmental emission damage, receive predominant attention, there is a lack of coverage and adequate quantification for others. This led in the past to an unbalanced basis for decision-making. Based on an analysis of literature, 12 impact categories were identified for the assessment of energy technologies. The analysis included the judgement of quantification approaches regarding their significance for describing the impact categories and their maturity resulting in the proposal of 12 concrete indicators. A framework is proposed to manage and integrate the assessment of single impact categories. The framework produces normalized and weighted output indicators to use in the form of a dashboard or alternatively a single sustainability index for informed decision-making. Finally, the proposed sustainability assessment framework relies on life cycle, local impact, and supply chain risks assessment. It consists of both well-established assessment methods as well as suggestions for new indicators in order to allow a full assessment of all impact categories. It thereby goes beyond the isolated assessment of impacts and offers the basis for comparison of complete energy supply mixes.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews Vol 138 

A. Buchmayr, E. Verhofstadt, L. Van Ootegem, D. Sanjuan Delmás, G. Thomassen, J. Dewulf
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