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Personal profile


“Sustainability assessments should be fact-based, value-driven and change-oriented.”

Research profile

Arjan Kirkels is an Assistant Professor in the department Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). His areas of expertise include technology assessment and sustainability assessments, in particular for the energy transition and the circular economy. Arjan’s research deals with assessment and implementation of sustainable technologies and is at the intersection of industrial ecology, feasibility studies and innovation sciences. He typically follows a multi-disciplinary approach, often combining multiple methods.

Arjan has a particular interest in critical sustainability assessments. On the one hand, these build on measuring and scoring ‘hard’ criteria related to sustainability (e.g. people, planet and profit dimensions); and on the other hand they deal with subjectivity (e.g. stakeholder preferences and conflicting views or framing). On top of this, these assessments have to deal with large uncertainties, which requires a robust approach. Besides deepening scientific insight in this field, Arjan supports an action-based approach – as sustainability and innovation can only be achieved by making real changes.

Academic background

Arjan Kirkels studied Technology and Society at TU/e, graduating in 2000 on a thesis on municipal waste incineration. From 1995-2008, he worked as senior lecturer at TU/e for the center Technology for Sustainable Development (TDO). From 2008 he continued this position within the TIS group. In 2016 he obtained his PhD for his thesis on developments and trajectories of biomass gasification, and he was appointed as assistant professor. Arjan has been involved in setting up and teaching of more than 15 courses, wrote several readers, supervised many student projects on a variety of topics (thesis and multidisciplinary projects), and participated in networks on sustainability in education.

Student work includes projects on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA), feasibility studies, business models, discourse analysis and design based approaches on a variety of sustainable technologies – including energy from biomass, new energy carriers, solar PV and energy in the built environment. Arjan also publishes regularly in key international journals, including Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews and Energy for Sustainable Development.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


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