The role of life cycle assessment/ life cycle sustainability assessment based net energy analysis in
Oludunsin Arodudu, David Murphy
Life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) methods (namely environmental life cycle assessment-eLCA and life cycle costing-LCC) has previously been used for estimation of net energy indicators. While eLCA’s life cycle energy/material inventory has enabled more detailed estimation of energy inputs and outputs for net energy indicator calculation, LCC based monetary evaluation of energy cost and output has also been adopted for net energy indicator assessment, due to relative accessibility of reliable economic data (in comparison to energy inventory data), close association of energy cost/prices within an economy/society, and the ease of harmonization of units for measuring energy inventory items in monetary terms (labour, land, machinery and other energy inventory items are often more easily quantified in monetary terms). Based on understanding that continuity of human civilization/development depends on the capacity of humanity to continually derive enough net energy for continuous survival/sustenance, the fulfilment of any sustainability aspiration or sustainable development goal will be dependent on the amount of net energy available to the society, hence LCA/LCSA derived net energy indicators can be direct or indirect/proxy metrics of capacities of organizations/sectors/economies/societies/nations to fulfil their sustainability aspirations or sustainable development goals, via the production and use of different products, improvement of various industrial processes and changes in behavioural patterns and activities. Consequently, this study seeks to establish the extent of relationship between net energy and different environmental, social and economic impact categories listed within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) by listing previous associations identified and suggesting net energy-based indicators for measuring the progress of different impact categories within the 17 UN SDGs.