FRS Lunch Talk: Integrated Assessment of Energy Systems


2 Nov 2016 | Dr Stefan Hirschberg speaks about the approaches, applications and insights on integrated assessment of energy systems.

The push towards sustainable energy has received wide support. Energy technologies that have minimal impacts on human health, the climate and ecosystems, with low accident risks, high supply reliability, and which are resource-efficient and economically affordable have broad social acceptance and come close to satisfying the basic sustainability requirements.

But are such technologies available today? If not, will they be available in the short, medium or long-term? Are there transparent and scientific approaches that allow us to measure the sustainability of various energy options?

Major progress has been made in the development and implementation of a framework for sustainability assessment of electricity supply technologies with the associated fuel cycles. However, consistent, measurable, technology-specific indicators for environmental, economic and social performance are still needed to support informed decisions.

The representative quantitative indicators are derived through a variety of methods including Life Cycle Assessment, Impact Pathway Approach and Probabilistic Safety Assessment. This methodological framework is supported by large databases. Using Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), the measured indicators can be combined with subjective preferences of the various stakeholders.

The presentation will focus on electricity supply, with examples of comparative interdisciplinary assessments of technology performance, demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of various technological options.

In view of the interests of the Future Resilient Systems (FRS) programme in particular, risk-relevant indicators will be highlighted. Recent national and global supply scenarios reflecting impact of uncertainties, such as electricity demand, policies, prices, technological development, and extent of decentralisation may also be addressed.

The Speaker

Dr Stefan Hirschberg is head of the Interdepartmental Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland. Currently he is principal investigator for 'Energy Systems and Comparative Assessment' research cluster of the Future Resilient Systems programme at the Singapore-ETH Centre.  

At the PSI, he has been managing projects on energy and mobility for regulators, for electric utilities and vendors, and within international programmes since 1992.

His main research interests currently include: Life Cycle Assessment, Environmental Impact and External Cost Assessment, Risk Assessment, Sustainability Assessment, Development of Integrated Tools for Decision Support, Analysis of Energy Supply Strategies, and Integrated Assessment of Mobility.

He has been member of numerous advisory, consultant and expert groups supporting national and international organizations. He has about 200 publications and lectures on systems analysis at ETH Zurich - the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Since 2008 he is individual member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (SATW). Dr. Hirschberg is a member of the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, Sustainability Journal, and Sustainable Production and Consumption.

He is member of the International Scientific Advisory Board of the Programme 'Technology, Innovation and Society' of the Helmholtz Association, vice president of the ecoinvent Board of Directors, member of the Steering Board of Swiss Competence Center for Research (SCCER) 'Supply of Electricity' and member of the Executive Board of SCCER 'Efficient Mobility'.

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