Assessing the sustainability of energy technological systems in Southern Africa: A review and way forward
The field of technology assessment is not new, but it continues to be relevant today more than ever, especially in the energy sector. Issues related to climate change, energy security and sustainability in general are at the core of all energy policies and strategies. The development of new and more sustainable energy technologies are needed to address these challenges. As part of this, energy technology assessment tools can help decision-makers with the identification of sustainable energy solutions, in order to integrate them in long-term energy policies and strategies. The concept and practice of sustainable development has subsequently manifested in the technology assessment field. This implies the re-classification of technology assessment into ecological, economic and social (and other) goals. In the Southern African context, specifically, there is no formal and coherent approach to energy technology assessment from a sustainability perspective. Governments in the region are finding it challenging to establish national policies concerning energy technology assessment. Indeed, the review reveals the limited use of the term "technology assessment" in energy evaluation studies in Southern Africa. Energy sustainability assessments may be reported, but certainly not from the perspectives of the technology management community, and, although a number of studies have discussed the issues of sustainability in technology assessment, none account for technology sustainability assessment from a holistic perspective. The paper argues that it is in this area that further research is needed. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.