There is need for a well-structured, transparent and robust approach for evaluating energy systems that includes the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economic and societal. Issues with system boundaries, and variability of data used in assessments and energy equivalents will remain apparent as we continue to employ technologies to find sustainable energy supplies and alternative feedstocks. Factor in the repercussions of oil and gas production on produced water, questions and concerns surrounding bio-fuels, and the impacts of solar and nuclear energy production expansion, and the need for a sustainable evaluation approach becomes even more apparent.
Applying appropriate metrics along the energy supply chains will improve the decision measurement criteria necessary to aide technology developers as they guide the transition to new alternative feedstocks and sustainable energy sources. Additionally, the development of sustainability metrics permits analysis of the specific costs and benefits of new energy sources that could help inform federal decision-making.