New conference paper ‘Energy-Landscape Nexus’

Posted by on October 19, 2013 in Conference, Homepage, Publications, Research

New paper: Stremke, Sven, Energy-landscape nexus: Advancing a conceptual framework for the design of sustainable energy landscapes, ECLAS (European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools) conference proceedings, Hamburg, Germany, in press.

Introduction: For some time now, the concept of ‘energy landscape’ is discussed in academia while more and more practising landscape architects contribute to the siting, designing and assessment of renewable energy technologies (see e.g. Stremke et al. 2012). Yet, there remains some ambiguity what exactly is meant with ‘energy landscape’ and, most importantly, how to shape landscapes that do not merely accommodate renewable energy technologies but that can be considered sustainable. The latter knowledge gap has been described as following: “While the desirability of renewable energy is not in doubt, comprehensive assessments of its sustainability […] are, at present, not generally carried out” (Blaschke et al. 2013, p.2).

Prominent examples of the “clash between local rights to landscape and the more global logic of progress towards a low carbon economy” (Van der Horst and Vermeylen, 2011, p.467) are the growing opposition against wind turbines and solar parks. Energy transition is indeed challenged by socio-economic forces but also, unfortunately, characterized by a lack of scrutiny when it comes to the notion of sustainability. German policy makers, for example, recently concluded that solar parks on farmland compete with food production, can therefore not be considered sustainable and should consequently receive lower feed-in tariffs. Could we not have anticipated this adverse effect of renewable energy provision on other ecosystem services before, based on solid science and experiences elsewhere?

This paper is based on literature research, questionnaires, expert interviews and findings from research and design projects in the Netherlands. The energy-landscape discourse, however, is not limited to the Netherlands; Table 1 presents a selection of projects that deal with sustainable energy transition. The main objective of this paper is to advance a conceptual framework for the planning and design of sustainable energy landscapes; an attempt to advance the energy-landscape discourse beyond the siting, designing and assessment of renewable energy technology (RET)…


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Figure: Schematic representation of relations between groups of criteria (four domains) and the project-specific definition of sustainability (dashed circle) for the design of sustainable energy landscapes.