Sustainable Energy Landscape: Implementing Energy Transition in the Physical Realm

Authored by: Sven Stremke

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Since the beginning of the new millenium, the concept of “energy landscape” is being discussed by academia from the environmental design domain while more and more practitioners have been contributing to sustainable energy transition. Yet, there remains some ambiguity as to what exactly is meant with the notion of “energy landscape” and, most importantly, how to shape landscapes that do not merely accommodate renewable energy technologies but that can be considered sustainable. The main objective of this entry is to advance a conceptual framework that can inform a sustainable implementation of energy transition in the physical realm. To this end, the ecosystem services framework provides useful structure because many energy technologies can be associated with particular services. However, not every aspect of sustainable energy transition can be expressed by means of that framework (e.g., access to affordable energy). The conceptual framework for the planning and design of sustainable energy landscapes proposed here consists of four dimensions (sustainable technical, environmental, sociocultural, and economical). Each dimension, in turn, contains a number of “core” sustainability criteria that are non-negotiable and other criteria that have to be discussed, weighted, and prioritized by stakeholders and experts for each specific situation.

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