Solar PVs are widely proposed as sustainable alternatives to electricity generation from fossil fuels to fulfil the ever-growing energy demands. They have demonstrated great potentials to mitigate devastating environmental impacts of power generation; but, is it enough for a sustainable development? The aim of this paper is to provide a better understanding of how large scale deployment of solar power generation would affect sustainability of a community energy infrastructure. Along with site-specific environmental impacts, cost and social dimensions of sustainability are also considered throughout the life cycle of energy systems and fuels. The proposed framework acknowledges different perspectives and captures the complexities and limitations of power generation. We developed a multi-criteria sustainability appraisal framework to evaluate and compare the sustainability of two different fuel mix scenarios. In this study, accountability of the energy system as well as the safety and resource depletion issues are included as Social Impacts by introducing proper indicators. Assessment results indicated that solar PVs performance has to be improved in cost and social sustainability criteria. The paper also explores the challenges and complexities of sustainability evaluation of energy systems and identifies the bottlenecks of solar PVs deployment in large scales. We concluded that the rate of large-scale penetration of photovoltaics with the purpose of sustainability enhancement should be addressed by adaptive management approaches examining energy demands, solar PV manufacturing and efficiency improvement trends.
Moslehi, S., & Arababadi, R. (2016). Sustainability Assessment of Complex Energy Systems Using Life Cycle Approach-Case Study: Arizona State University Tempe Campus. In Procedia Engineering (Vol. 145, pp. 1096–1103). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proeng.2016.04.142