Presently, distributed energy systems have attracted significant attention of researchers globally. This can be attributed to their high energy efficiency thus meeting the end user energy demands. Consequently, distributed energy systems have been beneficial in reducing the energy consumption and greenhouse gases emission thereby enhancing sustainability. Currently, several distributed energy systems including photovoltaic solar, wind turbines among others have been developed. As such, selecting the most efficient system for a particular use has been a great challenge among various end users. For instance, several techniques and models based on energy performance have been developed to help customers select the appropriate energy systems. Unfortunately, most of these approaches do not take into consideration the environmental and social objectives and thus have remained of little help.
Scientists have identified several research gaps that should be bridged to allow sustainable design of distributed energy systems that will account for the environmental and social objectives as well as the end users’ opinions regarding such systems. Alternatively, this will allow proper evaluation and ranking of the alternative distributed energy systems based on the multi-criteria decision-making approaches. Unfortunately, several uncertainties emerge during ranking these energy systems. Therefore, the development of appropriate approaches for addressing these uncertainties and simultaneously solving the aforementioned gaps is highly desirable.
To this note, Dr. Zhenfeng Wang, Professor Guangyin Xu, Dr. Heng Wang from Henan Agricultural University together with Professor Jingzheng Ren from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University developed a comprehensive method for assessing the data uncertainties in the ranking of the distributed energy systems. Fundamentally, they combined the interval VIKOR and Decision-Making Trail and Evaluation Laboratory (DEMATEL) methods to develop a more efficient multi-criteria decision-making approach. These two methods were used to address the uncertainties and evaluate the ranking criteria respectively. The work is currently published in the journal, Energy.
Briefly, the research team explored four different distributed energy systems: fuel cell, gas turbine, internal engine combustion, and photovoltaic systems. Next, they investigated the sustainability of the systems by establishing a ranking based weighted evaluation criteria taking into account several factors such as costs, technological changes, energy consumption, greenhouses gases emissions, and genal social acceptance.
The authors observed that the photovoltaic and the combustion engine systems were the most and least sustainable systems respectively. Additionally, the weight of criteria exhibited a significant influence on the ranking of the above-investigated energy distributed systems.
In summary, the authors succeeded in developing a comprehensive approach for addressing the various preferences, judgments, and opinions of various shareholders and end-users in selecting the most appropriate distributed energy systems. Altogether, the study will advance the future development of advanced multi-criteria decision analysis for the sustainability ranking of the distributed energy systems by considering other factors like the contribution and importance of stakeholders.
Wang, Z., Xu, G., Wang, H., & Ren, J. (2019). Distributed energy system for sustainability transition: A comprehensive assessment under uncertainties based on interval multi-criteria decision-making method by coupling interval DEMATEL and interval VIKOR. Energy, 169, 750-761.Go To Energy