Techno-Economic, Environmental, and Social Measurement of Clean Energy Technology Supply Chains: Article No. e10131

Jill Engel-Cox, Hope Wikoff, Samantha Reese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In addition to the criteria of reliability and cost, clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and batteries, need to strive to a higher standard of environmental and societal benefit along their entire supply chain. This means additional performance metrics for these technologies should be considered, such as embodied energy, embodied carbon, recycled content and recyclability, environmental impact of material sourcing, impact on land and ecosystems, materials recovery at end of life, and production through quality nonexploitive jobs with community benefit. Many commercial and emerging energy technologies have not yet been explicitly evaluated based on these environmental and social performance metrics, which presents multiple opportunities for researchers and analysts. In this paper, we review the importance and current limitations of techno-economic and life-cycle assessment models for research design and manufacturing decisions. We explore emerging manufacturing modeling options that could improve environmental and social performance and how they could be used to help guide research. Even with the deployment of low-carbon energy-generation technologies, the future of a successful clean energy transition requires collaboration between researchers, advanced manufacturers, independent standards and tracking organizations, local communities, and national governments, to ensure the financial, environmental, and social sustainability of the entire supply and manufacturing process of energy technologies.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Advanced Manufacturing and Processing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A50-82800


  • clean energy
  • life-cycle assessment
  • social sustainability
  • supply chains
  • sustainability
  • technoeconomics


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