Assessing risk and opportunities in a high-renewables scenario: local planning and new energy landscapes
With the significant exception of hydroelectric power plants and traditional biomass burning, renewable energy (RE) have so far represented a limited share of global primary energy. However, renewable power generation technologies, with specific reference to wind and solar plants, have consistently followed a steep price-experience learning curve: new solar photovoltaic power plants cost today 80 per cent less than those built ten years ago and since 2013 the world is annually adding more capacity for renewable power than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. The impressive and largely unforeseen reduction of total RE generation costs, together with emerging options for energy storage, is empowering new distributed power generation models and some analysts suggest that electricity produced from large-scale solar plants will be soon cheaper than power produced from any conventional technology, in many European countries.
The perspective of a power generation system strongly based on renewable sources represents a thrilling opportunity for climate change mitigation, but also raise concerns about potential risks. In this context, a first analysis of the Italian scenario is proposed, and the relevance of a possible transition to a power generation system based on renewables in terms of soil consumption and potential competition with agriculture is discussed.
Renewable power plants have generally low environmental impacts, particularly in terms of pollutants emissions, but due to the need of harvesting diluted forms of energy (solar radiation and wind) have a different spatial scale with respect to traditional thermal power plants. The adoption of a distributed power generation model based on renewable sources can produce positive social, environmental and economic effects, but implies relevant transformations at landscape level and hence needs to be properly managed.
Local authorities and communities should be aware of the transition scale and importance, being involved and empowered in designing future energy landscapes.
Fostering the adoption of renewable energy, the Italian legislation has introduced the concept of ‘not suitable areas’ for RE plants, but the approach adopted so far in the authorization process appears insufficient for achieving high quality results at local scale. In this perspective, pro-active planning tools should be adopted to orient the deployment of renewable power plants at district level, filling the gap between building efficiency policies and large-scale energy plans, toward the definition of collectively shared renewable energy landscapes.
Read the full textDownload PDF
Breyer C., et al. (2014). Nort-East Asian Super Grid: Renewable Energy Mix and Economics, Proceedings of the 6th World Conference of Photovoltaic Energy Conversion (WCPEC-6).
Colombo L., (2014). The global climate change challenge, CSE City Safety Energy, Issue 2-2014.
European Commission (2011). A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050. COM(2011) 112.
European Commission (2014). Integration of Renewable Energy in Europe, study prepared by KEMA Consulting, DNV GL – Energy, Imperial College and NERA Economic Consulting on behalf of DG Energy, Brussels, June.
Foglia L., Valente R. (2014). Energy integration for performance intensity public urban spaces, CSE City Safety Energy, Issue 1-2014.
Fraunhofer ISE (2015). Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics. Long-term Scenarios for Market Development, System Prices and LCOE of Utility-Scale PV Systems. Study on behalf of Agora Energiewende.
GSE (2012). Rapporto statistico 2012. Impianti a fonti rinnovabili. Settore elettrico.
GSE (2014). Rapporto statistico 2013. Solare fotovoltaico.
GSE (2015). Rapporto statistico 2013. Impianti a fonti rinnovabili.
Hertwich, E. G., Gibon, T., Bouman, E. A., Arvesen, A., Suh, S., Heath, G. A., … Shi, L. (2014). Integrated life-cycle assessment of electricity-supply scenarios confirms global environmental benefit of low-carbon technologies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201312753. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1312753111
IEA (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014). Energy Technology Perspectives.
IEA (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014). World Energy Outlook, Executive Summaries series.
IEA2 (2014). Technology Roadmap: Solar Photovoltaic Energy – 2014 edition.
IPCC, (2011). IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Prepared by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
IPCC, (1990). First Assessment Report. Working Group III: The IPCC Response Strategies.
IPCC, (1995). Second Assessment Report: Climate Change 1995. Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific-Technical Analyses.
IPCC, (2001). Climate Change 2001, Mitigation.
IPCC, (2007). Climate Change 2007. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007.
B. Metz, O.R. Davidson, P.R. Bosch, R. Dave, L.A. Meyer (eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
IPCC. (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Fong, W.K., Sotos, M., Doust, M. Schultz, S., Marques, A., Deng-Beck, C., (and others).
IRENA – International Renewable Energy Agency (2015). Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014.
ISPRA (2014). Italian Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2012. National Inventory Report 2012.
ISPRA (2014). Il consumo di suolo in Italia. Edizione 2014. Rapporti 195/2014.
ISPRA (2015). Fattori di emissione atmosferica di CO2 e sviluppo delle fonti rinnovabili nel settore elettrico. Rapporti 212/2015.
ISPRA (2015). Scenari di consumo elettrici al 2050. Rapporti 213/2015.
ISTAT (2012). 6° Censimento Generale dell’Agricoltura. Risultati definitivi.
Magoni, M., (2013). Energia e paesaggio al tempo dei cambiamenti climatici. Proceedings REAL CORP 2013. Eds: Schrenk, M., Popovich, V., Zeile, P., Elisei, P..
NREL – National Renewable Energy Laboratory (2013). Land-Use Requirements for Solar Power Plants in the United States. NREL/TP-6A20-56290.
Puttilli M., (2014). Geografia delle fonti rinnovabili. Franco Angeli, Milano.
Renewables, (2004). International Conference for Renewable Energies. Proceedings, Conference Report, Outcomes and Documentation, Political Declaration/International Action Programme/Policy Recommendations for Renewable Energy, 1-4 June 2004, Bonn, Germany.
RSE, (2012). Valutazione del potenziale dei sistemi di accumulo di energia mediante centrali di pompaggio idroelettrico per il sistema idroelettrico italiano – Analisi di fattibilità preliminari.
RSE, (2012). L’energia elettrica dal vento. Ed. Casale, C. RSEview, riflessioni sull’energia.
Sereni, E. (1961) Storia del paesaggio agrario italiano. Laterza, 1999.
World Economic Forum (2015). The Future of Electricity. Attracting investment to build tomorrow’s electricity sector.
World Resources Insititute (2015). Avoiding bioenergy competition for food crops and land. Installment 9 of “Creating a Sustainable Food Future”.
- There are currently no refbacks.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
CSE Journal - City Safety Energy is a semiannual journal (Two ISSUES per Year) published by Le Penseur in Brienza (PZ) - Italy | ISSN print edition 2283-8767 | ISSN online edition 2284-3418 - Journal registerd at the Court of Potenza (Italy) n. 219/2014