About this Research Topic
Climate change and continued reliance on traditional high-carbon fossil fuels are major threats for a future sustainable development of the modern society. Many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals directly and indirectly encourage urgent action on climate change. Promoting the transition towards sustainable energy systems by development of low-carbon energy resources has been seen as the main strategy for mitigating and solving global climate change. In this case, the worldwide large-scale deployment of low-carbon energy resources could be expected in the near future. This required upscaling of low-carbon energy resources in a relatively short term may face some scalability challenges and have an impact on both society and the environment. Understanding these challenges and developing appropriate policies and countermeasures will be beneficial to achieving a sustainable development of low-carbon energy resources.
This Research Topic focuses on the broad and complex societal impacts of the development of low-carbon energy resources. Of these various impacts, material supply risk and environmental impacts are two important aspects. Materials, especially some key metal elements, are important inputs for low-carbon energy resources. Upscaling of these low-carbon energy resources may induce major increases in the demand for specific materials like lithium, cobalt, etc. Therefore, assessing material requirements and analyzing the risk of sustainable and adequate supply of these materials are crucial for policy-making. Furthermore, many studies have shown that large-scale development of low-carbon energy resources may also face uncertain environmental impacts across the full industrial life cycle. A full understanding of these environmental impacts is very important for recognizing the role low-carbon energy resources may play in solving climate change.
The goal of this Research Topic is therefore to explore and analyse potential consequences arising from a large-scale deployment of low-carbon energy systems on materials and the environment as well as potential response policies for the government and industry. Findings from studies of materials and the environment could help industry and governments better understand the impacts of large-scale development of low-carbon energy resources, while industrial policies or relative counter-measures could help industry solve these potential barriers so as to achieve a sustainable energy system based on low-carbon energy resources.
This Research Topic welcomes multi-disciplinary approaches to examine environmental and societal impacts caused by development of low-carbon energy resources and transitions towards low-carbon energy systems as well as potential response polices for addressing these influences. We solicit empirical and case studies that have a solid theoretical background and provide practical policy implications. Themes of interests include, but are not limited to:
• Material requirements (or flow) and supply risk analysis for upscaling of low-carbon systems
• Water footprint analysis for low-carbon energy resources
• Energy use (embodied energy, EROI analysis) for low-carbon energy resources
• Carbon emissions assessment for low-carbon energy resources
• Water–energy–carbon nexus and other environmental impacts for low-carbon energy systems
• Polices related to solving or mitigating the potential risks of material supply and environmental impacts
This Research Topic has been realized in collaboration with Dr. Meiyu Guo, Research Fellow at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Keywords: low-carbon energy, material supply, environmental footprints, energy-water-climate nexus, policies
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