Life Cycle-based Environmental Performance Indicator for the Coal-to-energy Supply Chain: A Chinese Case Application

Pezhman Ghadimi , Chao Wang, Amir Hossein Azadnia , Ming Lim, John W. Sutherland

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    27 Citations (Scopus)
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    Coal consumption and energy production (CCEP) has received increasing attention since coal-fired power plants play a dominant role in the power sector worldwide. In China, coal is expected to retain its primary energy position over the next few decades. However, a large share of CO2 emissions and other environmental hazards, such as SO2 and NOx, are attributed to coal consumption. Therefore, understanding the environmental implications of the life cycle of coal from its production in coal mines to its consumption at coal-fired power plants is an essential task. Evaluation of such environmental burdens can be conducted using the life cycle assessment (LCA) tool. The main issues with the traditional LCA results are the lack of a numerical magnitude associated with the performance level of the obtained environmental burden values and the inherent uncertainty associated with the output results. This issue was addressed in this research by integrating the traditional LCA methodology with a weighted fuzzy inference system model, which is applied to a Chinese coal-to-energy supply chain system to demonstrate its applicability and effectiveness. Regarding the coal-to-energy supply chain under investigation, the CCEP environmental performance has been determined as “medium performance”, with an indicator score of 39.15%. Accordingly, the decision makers suggested additional scenarios (redesign, equipment replacement, etc.) to improve the performance. A scenario-based analysis was designed to identify alternative paths to mitigate the environmental impact of the coal-to-energy supply chain. Finally, limitations and possible future work are discussed, and the conclusions are presented.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-38
    Number of pages11
    JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
    Early online date28 Apr 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

    Bibliographical note

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Resources, Conservation and Recycling. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, [147], (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.04.021

    © 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


    • Coal consumption and energy production
    • Coal-to-energy supply chain
    • Environmental performance indicator
    • Life cycle analysis
    • Fuzzy inference system


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