Public Release: 

Assessment aims to maximize greenhouse gas reductions from bioenergy

New study published in Bioenergy wins Elsevier's Atlas award


Amsterdam, Jan. 21, 2016 - A study reported in the journal Energy used a new method, never before applied to the energy sector, to assess the "sustainability index" of various sources of energy, both conventional and renewable.

The study, led by a research team at the University of Coruña, Spain, has been selected as the winning entry for Elsevier's montly Atlas Award.

The new model used by the researchers is based on the MIVES method (which stands for Modelo Integrado de Valor para una Evaluación Sostenible or Integrated Value Model for Sustainability Assessment). This model seeks to generate a 360 degree view of each energy source and includes parameters such as costs, from obtaining the fuel to operating the plant; environmental impacts, such as global warming, ozone depletion, and noise; and social dimensions, such as jobs, population displacement and visual impact.

"The mistake is sometimes made of associating sustainability solely with caring for or respecting the environment," said author Juan José Cartelle Barros. "Sustainable development is something more. It covers aspects related to the economy, society and the environment. Thus, it is time to think about electricity generation in a broad sense, covering all three pillars in depth."

With the exception of biomass fuels, this new model shows renewable energies consistently come out on top. The authors' analyses found that renewable energies have a sustainability index between 0.39 and 0.80, with 0 being the lowest relative contribution to sustainability and 1 being highest. By comparison, the sustainability indices of conventional power plants ranged from 0.29 to 0.57.

Co-authors of the study include Manuel Lara-Coira, María Pilar de la Cruz-López and Alfredo del Caño-Gochi. The work was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

The full story and interview with the authors are available at


Notes for Editors

The article is Assessing the global sustainability of different electricity generation systems

Juan José Cartelle Barros, Manuel Lara Coira, María Pilar de la Cruz López and Alfredo del Caño Gochi

The article appeared in Energy, Volume 89, September 2015, Pages 473-489.

This article is freely available on ScienceDirect.

Journalists who would like more information or want to interview the authors are welcome to contact:

About Energy

Energy is an international, multi-disciplinary journal in energy engineering and research. The journal also features related topics such as energy conservation, energy efficiency, biomass and bioenergy, renewable energy, electricity supply and demand, energy storage, energy in buildings, and economic and policy issues.

About Atlas, Research for a better world

Science impacts everyone's world. With over 1,800 journals publishing articles from across science, technology and health, our mission is to share some of the stories that matter. Each month Elsevier's Atlas showcases research that can significantly impact people's lives around the world or has already done so. We hope that bringing wider attention to this research will go some way to ensuring its successful implementation.

With so many worthy articles published the tough job of selecting a single article to be awarded "The Atlas" each month comes down to an Advisory Board. The winning research is presented alongside interviews, expert opinions, multimedia and much more on the Atlas website:

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions -- among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey -- and publishes more than 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 33,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

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Press Officer, Elsevier

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