PhD D Oudes - Exploring Alternative Futures for Entity Energy Landscapes

The aim of this PhD research is to develop an environmental design framework for landscapes with renewable energy generation as primary function, here referred to as ‘entity energy landscapes’. Entity energy landscapes are characterized by a vast spatial expanse and visual dominance of energy technologies. They consist of a single or multiple types of technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels, biomass facilities, energy transport and storage facilities.

Entity energy landscapes are needed in order to achieve the renewable energy targets set in the Paris Agreement along with other smaller-scale and local energy landscapes (Sijmons et al. 2017). The great majority of current energy landscapes in the Netherlands belong to the latter category of ‘component energy landscapes’ where energy technologies represent one of the many layers in the landscape (Pasqualetti & Stremke, 2018).

Developing entity energy landscapes requires substantial landscape transformation that will alter existing functions and may challenge landscape values of the past, especially in the Netherlands with its high- population density and high land pressure. Until very recently, the majority of research focused on component energy landscapes – it does not yet address the substantial transformation of landscapes for large-scale renewable energy provision.

Sustainability criteria, on the one hand, are a means to inform and evaluate possible landscape transformation, to identify potential synergies and trade-offs between energy provision and other land uses. Environmental design research, on the other hand, has the potential to envision alternative futures for entity energy landscapes while accommodating sustainability criteria and to generate new knowledge for the spatial dimension of energy transition.

In this PhD study, existing environmental design frameworks (or approaches) applied in other substantial landscape transformations will be investigated. Sustainability criteria will be identified and it will be examined which are applicable to entity energy landscapes. Both the design framework and the sustainability criteria are applied and tested through case study research.