Are renewables as friendly to humans as to the environment? A social life cycle assessment of renewable electricity

Shutaro Takeda, Alexander Ryota Keeley, Shigeki Sakurai, Shunsuke Managi, Catherine Benoît Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The adoption of renewable energy technologies in developing nations is recognized to have positive environmental impacts; however, what are their effects on the electricity supply chain workers? This article provides a quantitative analysis on this question through a relatively new framework called social life cycle assessment, taking Malaysia as a case example. Impact assessments by the authors show that electricity from renewables has greater adverse impacts on supply chain workers than the conventional electricity mix: Electricity production with biomass requires 127% longer labor hours per unit-electricity under the risk of human rights violations, while the solar photovoltaic requires 95% longer labor hours per unit-electricity. However, our assessment also indicates that renewables have less impacts per dollar-spent. In fact, the impact of solar photovoltaic would be 60% less than the conventional mix when it attains grid parity. The answer of "are renewables as friendly to humans as to the environment?" is "not-yet, but eventually".

Original languageEnglish
Article number1370
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2019

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life cycle assessment
electricity
Life cycle
life cycle
Electricity
Supply chains
labor
electricity supply
worker
energy technology
Personnel
human rights violation
renewable energy
human rights
dollar
quantitative analysis
Malaysia
environmental impact
Environmental impact
supply

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this

Are renewables as friendly to humans as to the environment? A social life cycle assessment of renewable electricity. / Takeda, Shutaro; Keeley, Alexander Ryota; Sakurai, Shigeki; Managi, Shunsuke; Norris, Catherine Benoît.

In: Sustainability (Switzerland), Vol. 11, No. 5, 1370, 01.03.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Takeda, Shutaro ; Keeley, Alexander Ryota ; Sakurai, Shigeki ; Managi, Shunsuke ; Norris, Catherine Benoît. / Are renewables as friendly to humans as to the environment? A social life cycle assessment of renewable electricity. In: Sustainability (Switzerland). 2019 ; Vol. 11, No. 5.
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