Current status on utilizing a life cycle system perspective to evaluate renewable energy production systems for achieving UN SDGs

Alvin W.L. Ee, Jonathan T.E. Lee, Hailin Tian, Ee Yang Lim, Miao Yan, Yen Wah Tong, Jingxin Zhang, Adam T.S. Ng, Yong Sik Ok, Harn Wei Kua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increased awareness of environmental issues and climate change leads to a proportional increase in research and development of “greener” technologies pertaining to renewable energy. In order to avoid simply creating more issues in the process of solving an outstanding problem, the implementation of proposed alternatives has to be studied methodically and holistically from a cradle-to-grave perspective. Currently, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals provide guidelines for country-level analysis but many of the indicators may not be applicable for technology-, products-, services- and system-level evaluation. Additionally, there is a lack of comprehensive and easily comparable sustainability assessments that can be applied across the different Sustainable Development Goals as well as a paucity of relevant targets for renewable energy technologies. Life cycle sustainability assessment, an extension to the widely applied life cycle assessment, is presented herein as the frame of reference to objectively provide insight into the potential impacts of prospective production systems, such that the Sustainable Development Goals can be met in a truly sustainable manner. An overview of current literature (>80 studies) on research into renewable energy production technologies in the areas of wind, solar and biomass is provided, with possible areas of life cycle sustainability assessment utilization highlighted and applied comprehensively in relation to the relevant Sustainable Development Goals. It is thus demonstrated that a Life Cycle Perspective in the form of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessments can be utilized to evaluate renewable energy technologies in a manner that truly meets the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and the relevant methodology applied to products and services as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107381
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Anaerobic Digestion
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment
  • Solar PV
  • UN sustainability development goals
  • Wind Energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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