A decision-making framework for the optimal design of renewable energy systems under energy-water-land nexus considerations.
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The optimal allocation of land for energy generation is of emergent concern due to an increasing demand for renewable power capacity, land scarcity, and the diminishing supply of water. Therefore, economically, socially and environmentally optimal design of new energy infrastructure systems require the holistic consideration of water, food and land resources. Despite huge efforts on the modeling and optimization of renewable energy systems, studies navigating the multi-faceted and interconnected food-energy-water-land nexus space, identifying opportunities for beneficial improvement, and systematically exploring interactions and trade-offs are still limited. In this work we present the foundations of a systems engineering decision-making framework for the trade-off analysis and optimization of water and land stressed renewable energy systems. The developed framework combines mathematical modeling, optimization, and data analytics to capture the interdependencies of the nexus elements and therefore facilitate informed decision making. The proposed framework has been adopted for a water-stressed region in south-central Texas. The optimal solutions of this case study highlight the significance of geographic factors and resource availability on the transition towards renewable energy generation.