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Life Cycle Analysis with Multi-Criteria Decision Making: A review of approaches for the sustainability evaluation of renewable energy technologies

Verónica Campos-Guzmán, M. Socorro García-Cáscales, Nieves Espinosa and Antonio Urbina

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2019, vol. 104, issue C, 343-366

Abstract: Sustainability is a concept that integrates at least three dimensions: environmental, economic and social. Energy systems are usually evaluated as a key contributor for sustainable development, needing the methodology used for their evaluation to address many indicators, some are quantitative, while others are qualitative. It is therefore a challenge to choose the best methodology to accomplish this task. In this article, a comprehensive literature review has been performed to analyse which tools have been used by the scientific community for the sustainability evaluation of renewable energy systems during the past ten years (2007–2017). The purpose of this work focuses on verifying that the methodological framework integrated by the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Multi-Criteria Decision Making (MCDM) combination is the right tool for the sustainability evaluation of renewable energy systems and obtaining a set of sustainable indicators, evaluation methods and the context where they are applied (such energy policies, electrical supply and evaluation of projects). A knowledge database has been built from the scientific experience of 154 cases of sustainability evaluation in renewable energy systems, with special focus on photovoltaic systems. The results of this revision show that LCA and MCDM applied individually do not achieve a comprehensive sustainability evaluation, due to their intrinsic high degree of uncertainty and the different kinds of analysed parameters. The hybrid framework of LCA and MCDM applied in combination appears as the most appropriate approach for this purpose, and specifically the combination of LCA and Analytic Herarchic Process (AHP), the most frequently used by the scientific community, for its simplicity and robustness for sustainable evaluation in energy systems.

Keywords: Life Cycle Analysis; Multi-Criteria Decision Making; Sustainability evaluation; Renewable energy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2019.01.031

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