Optimal diversity of renewable energy alternatives under multiple criteria: An application to the UK

Stanislav E. Shmelev, Jeroen C.J.M. Van Den Bergh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. We propose a multi-criteria analysis of alternative combinations of renewable energy technologies to meet a sustainable energy supply. It takes into account a range of criteria to reflect relevant environmental, social and economic considerations, capture the value of diversity, and reflect innovative potential and learning capacity. The combination of these factors allows for solutions in which there is more balance between economic, environmental and social dimensions, unlike in previous studies. Scenarios that might have been preferred on the basis of, for example, minimal costs or low CO2 emissions, will have to be reconsidered because of negative effects in terms of land use or unemployment. The decision making philosophy in this case changes from that of optimization to multi-criteria satisficing. This article argues for consideration of the following dimensions of the energy system: costs, emissions, water use, land use and employment. Consideration of such dimensions will shift energy system into the direction of overall sustainability while making it more resilient in the long-term. The approach is applied to the case of the United Kingdom by making use of a MARKAL model, complementing its goal of cost-minimization with additional, social and environmental criteria. This gives rise to a number of suggestions for UK energy mix and policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-691
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Diversity
  • Energy mix
  • MARKAL model
  • Multi-criteria decision aid (MCDA)
  • Renewable energy


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