Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy (RE) is one of the core strategies in developing sustainable future energy systems. But in planning such a transition, it is common to consider primarily cost and greenhouse gas reduction, as typified by cost-mitigation curves that have become widespread. Such assessments tend to leave important considerations of energy justice on the periphery. This paper puts forward an alternative assessment technique, incorporating various indicators of social equity in order to assess the priority of power plant replacement that would lead to the greatest improvement in benefits, while placing the burden of system changes away from the most vulnerable. An example of the application of this approach is presented for prioritization of the retirement and replacement (with RE) of Australia s ageing fleet of coal-fired power plants. The assessment shows very different results from a standard cost-mitigation approach, with the retirement of the large brown coal power plants (including the recently retired Hazelwood power plant) and the replacement with wind power (where applicable) promoting the best overall outcomes on both cost and equity. Considering a selection of high priority indicators with many locally-specific data sets, the approach adds significant contextual relevance to prioritization, and is considered to offer useful findings for policy-makers.
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