A systematic review of the sustainability assessment of bioenergy: The case of gaseous biofuels

Alejandro Padilla-Rivera, María Guadalupe Paredes, Leonor Patricia Güereca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, achieving sustainability in renewable energy systems has become important for achieving future economic prosperity and energy security all over the world; therefore, multiple attempts have been made to assess their sustainability. This means that in addition to considering the technological and economic factors, environmental and social aspects should also be considered. However, the wide-ranging concept of sustainability and the various methodological frameworks presented make their interpretation and correct implementation difficult. In this research, through a systematic literature review, we summarize and analyze the current research on the sustainability assessment of bioenergy production/use (also referred as gaseous biofuels) for electricity and heat generation. Sustainability approaches and their underlying factors from the three dimensions of sustainability were consolidated and structured in this systematic review. In addition, a set of indicators (environmental, social and economic) is provided based on the literature analyzed that decision makers can use to evaluate the sustainability performance of bioenergy systems. The main finding indicates that although there are various international efforts on measuring sustainability, only 32 of studies of the 8542 works initially screened (less than 1%) have an integrated approach that considers all three aspects of sustainability, i.e., environmental, economic and social aspects. In most cases, the focus is on one of the three aspects. Additionally, 50% of the studies evaluated included another dimension, i.e., a cultural, institutional or technical dimension. These results support the idea that a multidimensional sustainability assessment is feasible and facilitates decision-making processes towards a sustainable energy future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The financial support granted by “Fondo de Sustentabilidad Energética SENER – CONACYT (Mexico)” , through the project 247006 Gaseous Biofuels Cluster, is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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