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Special Issue "Circular Economy in Low-Carbon Transition"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "I: Energy Economics and Policy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 October 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Anna Mazzi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Interests: sustainability performance indicators; quality environment health and safety management systems; life cycle assessment; environmental footprint; circular economy; sustainable tourism; sustainable territorial management
Dr. Jingzheng Ren
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Technology and Innovation, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense, Denmark
Interests: process system engineering; sustainability engineering; engineering operations management; artificial intelligence; process simulation, integration and optimization; multi-criteria decision analysis
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is my great pleasure to invite you to submit your most recent research to this Special Issue “Circular economy in low-carbon transition”.

The circular economy represents a fundamental pillar for modern business models and sustainable development targets: the mandatory claim “reduce, reuse, recycle” is the answer to the global challenge of natural resource depletion and waste increase. At the same time, energy production and consumption play a key role in the face of challenges of industrialization and rapid population growth: with the depletion of traditional fossil fuels, renewable and low-carbon energy sources have attracted more and more attention for their advantages such as high renewability, great development potential, and potential emissions-mitigation. However, to implement the circular economy and low-carbon transition, the choices that shift the environmental burdens rather than reduce them must be carefully avoided, using a life cycle approach. The international community – including scientists, policymakers, industries, and markets – must develop new tools and competencies to generate environmental and socio-economic values from a comprehensive perspective.

This Special Issue will outline a roadmap of circular economy in the low-carbon transition, through the exchange of experiences in different contexts with both environmental and socio-economic points of view. Qualitative and quantitative measurements in resources/energy utilization, multi-criteria impact assessment in energy systems, and closing the loop strategies and initiatives represent valuable contributions for this Special Issue.

In particular, we encourage submissions of research articles, case studies, and review articles related but not limited to the following:

  • Policies and metrics to support a circular economy and low-carbon transition
  • Behavior and market analysis in a circular economy and low-carbon transition
  • Multi-criteria analysis of energy systems
  • Multi-criteria analysis of reuse/recycle processes
  • Strategies and experiences for energy efficiency
  • Risks/benefits analysis of second/third raw materials
  • Opportunities and obstacles in a circular economy and low-carbon transition
Prof. Dr. Anna Mazzi
Prof. Dr. Jingzheng Ren
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Circular economy
  • Low-carbon energy sources
  • Waste-to-energy
  • Renewable energy production
  • Energy efficiency
  • System optimization
  • Energy management
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle costing
  • Social life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Multi-criteria analysis
  • Material flow analysis
  • Consumers behavior analysis
  • Market analysis
  • Reduce, reuse, recycling
  • End-of-waste
  • Collaborative supply chain
  • Easy-to-repair design

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Comparative Environmental Assessment of Heat Pumps and Gas Boilers towards a Circular Economy in the UK
Energies 2021, 14(11), 3027; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/en14113027 - 24 May 2021
Viewed by 567
Abstract
This research compares the potential environmental impacts of heat pumps with gas boilers and scenario analysis through utilising the life cycle approach. The study analyses the current situation with the baseline model and assesses future applications with Circular Economy (CE), Resource Efficiency (RE) [...] Read more.
This research compares the potential environmental impacts of heat pumps with gas boilers and scenario analysis through utilising the life cycle approach. The study analyses the current situation with the baseline model and assesses future applications with Circular Economy (CE), Resource Efficiency (RE) and Limited Growth (LG) scenarios. Then, hybrid applications of low-carbon technologies and different manufacturing scenarios are investigated according to baseline and CE scenarios. Our results show that the use and manufacturing phases are responsible for 74% and 14% of all environmental impacts on average as expected. Even though the electricity mix of the UK has decarbonised substantially during the last decade, heat pumps still have higher lifetime impacts than gas boilers in all environmental categories except climate change impact. The carbon intensity of heat pumps is much lower than gas boilers with 0.111 and 0.097 kg CO2e for air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps, whereas the boiler stands as 0.241 kg CO2e. Future scenarios offer significant reductions in most of the impact categories. The CE scenario has the highest potential with a 44% reduction for heat pumps and 27% for gas boilers on average. RE and LG scenarios have smaller potential than the CE scenario, relatively. However, several categories expect an increase in future scenarios such as freshwater ecotoxicity, marine ecotoxicity and metal depletion categories. High deployment of offshore wind farms will have a negative impact on these categories; therefore, a comprehensive approach through a market introduction programme should be provided at the beginning before shifting from one technology to another. The 50% Hybrid scenario results expect a reduction of 24% and 20% on average for ASHP and GSHP, respectively, in the baseline model. The reduction is much lower in the CE scenario, with only a 2% decrease for both heat pumps because of the reduction in heat demand in the future. These results emphasise that even though the importance of the use phase is significant in the baseline model, the remaining phases will play an important role to achieve Net-Zero targets in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Low-Carbon Transition)
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Article
Towards a Digital Product Passport Fit for Contributing to a Circular Economy
Energies 2021, 14(8), 2289; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/en14082289 - 19 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1029
Abstract
The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a concept of a policy instrument particularly pushed by policy circles to contribute to a circular economy. The preliminary design of the DPP is supposed to have product-related information compiled mainly by manufactures and, thus, to provide [...] Read more.
The Digital Product Passport (DPP) is a concept of a policy instrument particularly pushed by policy circles to contribute to a circular economy. The preliminary design of the DPP is supposed to have product-related information compiled mainly by manufactures and, thus, to provide the basis for more circular products. Given the lack of scientific debate on the DPP, this study seeks to work out design options of the DPP and how these options might benefit stakeholders in a product’s value chain. In so doing, we introduce the concept of the DPP and, then, describe the existing regime of regulated and voluntary product information tools focusing on the role of stakeholders. These initial results are reflected in an actor-centered analysis on potential advantages gained through the DPP. Data is generated through desk research and a stakeholder workshop. In particular, by having explored the role the DPP for different actors, we find substantial demand for further research on a variety of issues, for instance, on how to reduce red tape and increase incentives for manufacturers to deliver certain information and on how or through what data collection tool (e.g., database) relevant data can be compiled and how such data is provided to which stakeholder group. We call upon other researchers to close the research gaps explored in this paper also to provide better policy direction on the DPP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Low-Carbon Transition)
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Article
Technological Solutions and Tools for Circular Bioeconomy in Low-Carbon Transition: Simulation Modeling of Rice Husks Gasification for CHP by Aspen PLUS V9 and Feasibility Study by Aspen Process Economic Analyzer
Energies 2021, 14(7), 2006; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/en14072006 - 05 Apr 2021
Viewed by 841
Abstract
This study explored the suitability of simulation tools for accurately predicting fluidized bed gasification in various scenarios without disturbing the operational system, and dedicating time to experimentation, in the aim of benefiting the decision makers and investors of the low-carbon waste-based bioenergy sector, [...] Read more.
This study explored the suitability of simulation tools for accurately predicting fluidized bed gasification in various scenarios without disturbing the operational system, and dedicating time to experimentation, in the aim of benefiting the decision makers and investors of the low-carbon waste-based bioenergy sector, in accelerating circular bioeconomy solutions. More specifically, this study aimed to offer a customized circular bioeconomy solution for a rice processing residue. The objectives were the simulation and economic assessment of an air atmospheric fluidized bed gasification system fueled with rice husk, for combined heat and power generation, by using the tools of Aspen Plus V9, and the Aspen Process Economic Analyzer. The simulation model was based on the Gibbs energy minimization concept. The technological configurations of the SMARt-CHP technology were used. A parametric study was conducted to understand the influence of process variables on product yield, while three different scenarios were compared: (1) air gasification; (2) steam gasification; and (3) oxygen-steam gasification-based scenario. Simulated results show good accuracy for the prediction of H2 in syngas from air gasification, but not for the other gas components, especially regarding CO and CH4 content. It seems that the RGIBBS and Gibbs free minimization concept is far from simulating the operation of a fluidized bed gasifier. The air gasification scenario for a capacity of 25.000 t/y rice husk was assessed for its economic viability. The economic assessment resulted in net annual earnings of EUR 5.1 million and a positive annual revenue of EUR 168/(t/y), an excellent pay out time (POT = 0.21) and return of investment (ROI = 2.8). The results are dependent on the choices and assumptions made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Low-Carbon Transition)
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Article
Are Short Food Supply Chains More Environmentally Sustainable than Long Chains? A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the Eco-Efficiency of Food Chains in Selected EU Countries
Energies 2020, 13(18), 4853; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/en13184853 - 16 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1696
Abstract
Improving the eco-efficiency of food systems is one of the major global challenges faced by the modern world. Short food supply chains (SFSCs) are commonly regarded to be less harmful to the environment, among various reasons, due to their organizational distribution and thus [...] Read more.
Improving the eco-efficiency of food systems is one of the major global challenges faced by the modern world. Short food supply chains (SFSCs) are commonly regarded to be less harmful to the environment, among various reasons, due to their organizational distribution and thus the shortened physical distance between primary producers and final consumers. In this paper, we empirically test this hypothesis, by assessing and comparing the environmental impacts of short and long food supply chains. Based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach, we calculate eco-efficiency indicators for nine types of food distribution chains. The analysis is performed on a sample of 428 short and long food supply chains from six European countries. Our results indicate that, on average, long food supply chains may generate less negative environmental impacts than short chains (in terms of fossil fuel energy consumption, pollution, and GHG emissions) per kg of a given product. The values of eco-efficiency indicators display a large variability across analyzed chains, and especially across different types of SFSCs. The analysis shows that the environmental impacts of the food distribution process are not only determined by the geographical distance between producer and consumer, but depend on numerous factors, including the supply chain infrastructure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Low-Carbon Transition)
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Review

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Review
A Bibliometric Analysis of Carbon Labeling Schemes in the Period 2007–2019
Energies 2020, 13(16), 4233; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/en13164233 - 16 Aug 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
Carbon labeling schemes enable consumers to be aware of carbon emissions regarding products or services, to help change their purchasing behaviors. This study provides a bibliometric analysis to review the research progress of carbon labeling schemes during the period 2007–2019, in order to [...] Read more.
Carbon labeling schemes enable consumers to be aware of carbon emissions regarding products or services, to help change their purchasing behaviors. This study provides a bibliometric analysis to review the research progress of carbon labeling schemes during the period 2007–2019, in order to provide insight into its future development. Number of publications, countries of publications, authors, institutions, and highly cited papers are included for statistical analysis. The CiteSpace software package is used to visualize the national collaboration, keywords co-appearance, and aggregation. The results are given as follows: (1) there are 175 articles published in the pre-defined period, which shows a gradual increase, with a peak occurred in 2016; (2) carbon labeling schemes are mainly applied to grocery products, and gradually emerged in construction and tourism. (3) Existing studies mainly focus on examination of utility of carbon labeling schemes, by conducting surveys to investigate individual perception, preference, and willingness to pay. (4) Future research will include the optimization of life cycle assessment for labeling accreditation, improvement of labeling visualization for better expression, and normalization of various environmental labels to promote sustainable consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in Low-Carbon Transition)
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