Renewable energy technologies, such as solar parks, are changing the landscape. Thousands of new wind turbines and hundreds of solar parks have taken up their places. As a result, society is slowly being confronted with different views and landscapes with new elements.
This is accompanied by resistance from local residents and competition in terms of economic value and environmental quality. For this change to be accepted, a debate is needed on the process (e.g. more participative design methods) and the content (e.g. building multifunctional solar parks).
WUR wants to focus more on qualitative methods with the Solar Research Programme. Landscape researchers involved in energy transition mainly focus on quantitative methods (e.g. multi-criteria decision-making), whereas qualitative thinking is needed to address social concerns, such as the effects of solar parks on the physical aspects and perception of landscapes.
A promising tool for taking account of the values of landscape users in the energy transition is 'landscape quality'. This consists of three types: functionality, experience and future. A broader view of landscapes can help to make solar parks more attractive and to stimulate social support for such parks. A similar approach is used in the adaptation of Dutch rivers to climate change, where both quantitative objectives and qualitative values are considered.