Inderscience Publishers

Strategic electric sector assessment methodology under sustainability conditions (SESAMS). Knowledge-based decision support framework: an enhanced methodology

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Foreseeable growth in world population and the desire to maintain or improve a particular standard of living will lead to a substantial increase in future world-wide energy demands. Among the different energy carriers, electricity has become especially important because of its versatility and manifold connections with services that make our environment more liveable. Even innovative energy saving and pollution mitigation technologies often rely on electricity. The question which arises is what kind of global energy mix and designs of technologies used to produce, store, transmit and distribute electricity should be implemented in the future to provide these services as a fundamental desire in a way compatible with a sustainable development. There is a need to assess energy in a more comprehensive way, to introduce sustainability as a new paradigm and assess the consequences, to develop and test tools which could be helpful in the decision making process. The above issues, which affect the strategic planning of electric sector supply and end-use activities, both in developed and developing countries, will be addressed by the project proposed here in order to develop an integrated methodological tool for electric sector development. The use of models will assist decision makers and other actors such as citizens, politicians, and administrators involved in the process of selecting among options for future electricity generation in Switzerland, and in understanding alternative resource choices in the context of the sustainability criterion. The present paper introduces a new research project at ETH within the Alliance for Global Sustainability research framework. One of the goals of the project is to develop and utilise knowledge-based infrastructures (e.g., databases, expert systems) and power system simulation and multi-attribute decision support tools in conjunction with electric sector actors primarily in Switzerland and New England (USA) in order that decision-making takes place on a more informed and sound basis. In taking into account the timely development and dissemination of scenario option results, primary consideration will be given to national and industrial electricity concerns with the goal of assisting countries e.g. Switzerland, in the selection of acceptable energy options for the next 20 to 30 years.

Keywords: energy systems, electricity generation, sustainability, energy mix, simulation, technology assessment, life cycle analysis

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