Review of life-cycle approaches coupled with data envelopment analysis: Launching the CFP + DEA method for energy policy making
I. Vázquez-Rowe and D. Iribarren
Scientific World Journal, vol. 2015, no. 813921 2015
Life-cycle (LC) approaches play a significant role in energy policy making to determine the environmental impacts associated with the choice of energy source. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) can be combined with LC approaches to provide quantitative benchmarks that orientate the performance of energy systems towards environmental sustainability, with different implications depending on the selected LC + DEA method. The present paper examines currently available LC + DEA methods and develops a novel method combining carbon footprinting (CFP) and DEA. Thus, the CFP + DEA method is proposed, a five-step structure including data collection for multiple homogenous entities, calculation of target operating points, evaluation of current and target carbon footprints, and result interpretation. As the current context for energy policy implies an anthropocentric perspective with focus on the global warming impact of energy systems, the CFP + DEA method is foreseen to be the most consistent LC + DEA approach to provide benchmarks for energy policy making. The fact that this method relies on the definition of operating points with optimised resource intensity helps to moderate the concerns about the omission of other environmental impacts. Moreover, the CFP + DEA method benefits from CFP specifications in terms of flexibility, understanding, and reporting.