Sustainable Energy Planning with Respect to Resource Use Efficiency: Insights for the United States

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



© 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers. Increasing population, rising energy demand, global warming, and energy insecurity are recognized as the main motives for the rush to expand renewable energy sources in the United States. Nevertheless, the unintended impacts on major natural resource system components such as land and water make some of the renewable energies undesirable when sustainability of energy sources is considered. This study uses a multicriteria decision-making approach for evaluating the overall resource use efficiency of energy sources with respect to four criteria: carbon footprint, water footprint, land footprint, and cost. Given that the importance of these criteria can vary based on the availability of natural and economic resources at the regional level, weights of these criteria must be adjusted accordingly. Evaluation of the resource use efficiency of different energy sources with respect to regional resource availability limitations across the United States indicates that the desirability of energy sources is highly sensitive to regional conditions. The study's findings demonstrate that not all renewable energies are necessarily sustainable when regional resource availabilities are considered. Thus, consideration of resource availabilities at regional scale is essential for sustainable energy planning and management.

Publication Title

World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2014: Water Without Borders - Proceedings of the 2014 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress