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The traditional carbon-based approach towards sustainability has long caused the concepts of green and sustainable energies to be used interchangeably. Recent studies have tried to advance this archaic view by considering more aspects of sustainability. However, almost all major studies have been concerned with only the economic and environmental aspects of electricity generation, whereas the concept of sustainability is beyond these two criteria. In this paper, we seek to provide a methodology for a more comprehensive definition of electricity generation sustainability based on the lessons learned from previous studies and additional metrics suggested by them. The main characteristics of select electricity generation technologies were studied, and their environmental, economic, social, and technical criteria as well as the uncertainties associated with them were selected as the four major factors in our paper. It has also been argued that the utilization of regional resources in addition to the inherent characteristics of electricity generation technologies is vital in providing a realistic view of sustainability. Of the sustainability assessment methods previously introduced, the Relative Aggregate Footprint (RAF) method was used in conjunction with the previously selected criteria as the basis of the study due to its ability to incorporate additional criteria and regional considerations. As such, the framework for sustainability assessment presented in this research accounts for major criteria identified in the literature and takes the available regional resources that affect the feasibility of each electricity technology into account. This study paves the way for the presentation of new guidelines for the creation of more comprehensive electricity generation sustainability measures to distinguish between the concepts of green and profitable vs. sustainable energies to support the development of sustainable energy portfolios.

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APA Citation

Khatami, F., & Goharian, E. (2022). Beyond Profitable Shifts to Green Energies, towards Energy Sustainability. Sustainability, 14(8), 4506.


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