AIMS Energy, 2015, 3(2): 241-254. doi: 10.3934/energy.2015.2.241


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Sustainable or Distributed Energy—or both? Clarifying the Basic Concepts of Reforming the Energy Sector

1 Levón Institute, University of Vaasa, PO Box 700, 65101 Finland;
2 Present address: Wärtsilä Finland Oy, Järvikatu 2-4, 65100 Vaasa, Finland

This paper clarifies the concepts of Sustainable Energy (SE) and Distributed Energy (DE) including their related synonyms, by discussing, analyzing and presenting recommendations. This is important because these concepts are crucial in the on-going transformation from the fossil carbon based to renewable energy based societies, but still the use of the concepts has been confusing. SE consists of the integration of rational use of energy (energy saving, energy efficiency, use of renewable energy sources and sustainability management for anticipating, avoiding and reducing adverse impacts). The best consensus for defining DE is “facilities connected to the distribution network or on the customer side of the meter”. Devices using fossil fuels but otherwise falling under this umbrella cannot be excluded from DE. This paper explores definitions of wind power in relation to its grid connections via DE. SE is more comprehensive embracing the whole field of energy management, with the exception of distributed fossil generation. SE is valuable for understanding, planning and implementing energy strategies in the transition process of the energy sector. SE also includes centralized energy. It is useful for planning at national or sub-national geographic regions. The combination Sustainable Distributed Energy (SDE) is excellent for regional contexts and for creating regional renewable energy self-sufficiency, integrated with society-wide energy saving and energy efficiency programs.
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