Sustainability assessment of energy production: A critical review of methods, measures and issues

Charles Turkson (Lead / Corresponding author), Adolf Acquaye, Wenbin Liu, Thanos Papadopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainable operations of energy production systems have become an increasingly important policy agenda globally because of the massive pressure placed on energy resources needed to support economic development and population growth. Due to the increasing research interest in examining the operational impacts of energy production systems on the society and the environment, this paper critically reviews the academic literature on the clean, affordable and secure supply of energy focussing on methods of assessments, measures of sustainability and emerging issues in the literature. While there have been some surveys on the sustainability of energy production systems they have either tended to focus on one assessment approach or one type of energy generation technology. This study builds on previous studies by providing a broader and comprehensive examination of the literature across generation technologies and assessment methods. A systematic review of 128 scholarly articles covering a 20-year period, ending 2018, and gathered from ProQuest, Scopus, and manual search is conducted. Synthesis and critical evaluation of the reviewed papers highlight a number of research gaps that exist within the sustainable energy production systems research domain. In addition, using mapping and cluster analyses, the paper visually highlights the network of dominant research issues, which emerged from the review.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110464
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • Energy policy
  • Energy production
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Systematic review
  • Systems thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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