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Renewable energy selection for net-zero energy communities: Life cycle based decision making under uncertainty

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Publication date: January 2019Source:Renewable Energy, Volume 130
Author(s): Hirushie Karunathilake, Kasun Hewage, Walter Mérida, Rehan Sadiq
Developing net-zero energy communities powered by renewable energy (RE) resources has become a popular concept. To make the best choices for community-level net-zero energy systems, it is necessary to identify the best energy technologies at local level. Evaluation of RE technologies has to be extended from technical and economic aspects to include environmental and social wellbeing. It is possible to identify the true costs and benefits of energy use by taking a cradle-to-grave life cycle perspective. In this study, a RE screening and multi-stage energy selection framework was developed. A fuzzy multi-criteria decision making approach was used in ranking the technologies to incorporate the conflicting requirements, stakeholder priorities, and uncertainties. Different scenarios were investigated to reflect different decision maker priorities. Under a pro-environment scenario, small hydro, onshore wind, and biomass combustion technologies perform best. Under a pro-economic decision scenario, biomass combustion, small hydro, and landfill gas have the best rankings. Triple bottom line sustainability was combined with technical feasibility through a ruled-based approach to avoid the theoretical pitfalls inherent in energy-related decision making. This assessment is geared towards providing decision makers with flexible tools, and is expected to aid in the pre-project planning stage of RE projects.

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