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Landscape and the energy transition

Project title: Landscape and the energy transition

Focus

  • Analysis of landscape aesthetic effects of wind energy turbines, ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, biogas plants and pumped storage power facilities
  • Proposals and recommendations for taking better account of these aspects in planning and approval
  • Scope for the participative design of evaluations of landscape aesthetics

Contact

Technische Universität Dresden
Chair of Landscape Planning
Faculty of Architecture, Institute for Landscape Architecture
Helmholtzstr. 10 , 01062 Dresden
Prof. Dr. Catrin Schmidt
Tel.: +49 351 463-3-3383
catrin.schmidt(at)avoid-unrequested-mailstu-dresden.de

 

Funding

FKZ 3515 82 3400
Departmental research plan 2015
Term: 01.10.2015 - 30.06.2017

The change-over to renewable energies such as the expansion of wind and ground-mounted photovoltaic systems, biogas plants and pumped storage power facilities is reflected in the landscape. By studying the effects of the energy transition on landscape aesthetics and how this is currently dealt with in planning and approval procedures, proposals and recommendations were developed in order to further develop current evaluation methods. This also aims to make allowance for the fact that perception of landscape and changes to it is a very individual matter. In view of this, the project also looked at options for a participative process of evaluating planning procedures in general and landscape aesthetics in particular.

Methods

The first stage of the project explored the question of which development tendencies in our landscapes might be expected over the next few years. How can the consequences of the energy transition be described in terms of landscape aesthetics and what are the main factors involved? Analysis of the current landscape changes and predictions of those ahead show physical changes and their significant landscape aesthetics components.

The current state of research in practice and theory was then determined. What are the shortcomings and urgent need for action in planning the energy transition? This would enable the prediction of conflicts that could arise in the tension between the landscape and energy transition.

In the third phase these findings were used to derive recommended approaches to dealing with the perception of landscape changes and the energy transition. Opportunities for cooperation between various stakeholders and the public were discussed. As cooperation with the public requires the planers to have information about the perception and design of the landscape and the energy transition, the project also gathered this information.

Last, landscape architecture approaches by students were also considered. How can a new creative quality in the landscape, a new landscape architecture come about under the heading of the energy transition? In terms of the landscape aesthetics of the emerging energy landscapes, what requires our particular attention?

The detailed results of these steps were collated, processed and published in a two-volume research report.

Results

Volume 1 of the research report summarises the technical framework, while Volume 2 of the report presents the practical recommendations for action.

In Volume 1, starting with an explanation of important technical terms and definition of the main contents of the report in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 goes on to describe the significant causal factors and effects of the energy transition for landscape aesthetics. It is evident that expansion in the use of renewable energies is happening at an extremely fast pace and is linked to spatially significant landscape changes, which almost inevitably alter the aesthetic perception and character of our landscapes and are therefore of the utmost relevance for the public and planning.

Following on from this, Chapter 3 shows that Germany has no standard method for evaluating landscape and aspects of landscape aesthetics (including acoustic or olfactory aspects) but there is in fact an enormous diversity (and specificity) of methods. In comparison to Germany, other European countries have adopted a much more participative approach in preparing and supporting landscape changes in the course of the energy transition. Aspects of landscape aesthetics have usually played a major part in this. At the same time, the landscape changes caused by the expansion of renewable energies are explicitly seen as a creative task (see Chapter 3.2). The Landscape Character Assessment developed in some European countries can provide a valuable stimulus for further development of the methods in Germany.

Following on from the planning and approval procedures described in Chapter 2.2 for the kinds of projects under consideration, Chapter 4 examines current practice in Germany in more detail. The results are extremely sobering: for although the energy transition leads to such widespread changes in landscape aesthetics, this has been insufficiently taken into account in the planning and approval procedures examined. Landscape and landscape aesthetics continue to be given little attention in the planning and approval of systems to generate renewable energies. A comparison of the planning and approval procedures of the four types of projects including an evaluation of the current case law (particularly in terms of planning concentration zones for wind energy exploitation) also illustrates that the options and framework conditions for taking account of aspects of landscape aesthetics differs markedly from one type of project and one instrument to the next. In addition, there are differences in the way the instruments are used between one German region and another, as became clear by comparing the compensation levels for the impact of wind turbines on the landscape.

In view of this, the recommendations for action in Volume 2 link directly to the different planning and approval procedures of the different energy carriers and distinguish between the various instruments and planning levels. At the same time it should not be forgotten that proactive landscape planning can produce a diverse framework for other environment-related instruments, so that qualification of proactive landscape planning can also make a contribution to qualification of the other instruments.

Chapter 5 of volume 1 of the research report looks in depth at the perception of the energy transition using the example of public campaigns for and against wind energy. Social constructivist and explicit theoretical discursive approaches offer an effective way of being able to follow the arguments of the public campaigns and their backgrounds and to expand alternative interpretation patterns – not least to direct attention to the existence of the most diverse, parallel (e)valuation possibilities for landscape and landscape aesthetics aspects. Chapters 5.1 to 5.8 present both the methodological approach and the results of a website analysis of 280 public campaigns, and the more detailed qualitative analysis of 40 public campaigns. Chapter 5.9 correlates these with analyses of physical landscape features in the landscapes of the public campaigns examined in order to draw conclusions of relevance to planning.

While Chapter 6 adds a short analysis of public campaigns against biogas plants, Chapter 7 serves to link the information obtained on the motives and expressions of public protest with the options and limits to involving the public in planning and approval procedures. This includes evaluations of national studies on experiences with participation in energy projects (Chapter 1.2) and case studies from other European countries (Chapter 7.2). Both these reviews point to the major importance of visual communication, which is therefore considered in more detail in Chapter 7.3. In future landscape should in general be developed in a much more participative manner, something that applies in particular to energy landscapes.

This aspect is taken up in Chapter 8 which looks at new ideas for an aesthetic qualification of new landscapes. This was the incentive for a student design competition at the universities of Dresden and Kassel. The requirement was to create a defined energy yield from renewable energies and also produce an aesthetically pleasing and experientially effective design for the new energy landscape in the planning zone of the town of Oederan. The competition was complemented by student projects at the University of Tübingen that focused on socio-political issues (Chapter 8.3).

The collated project results in Volume 1 form the basis of the recommendations for action presented separately in Volume 2. Depending on the addressee, the recommendations are divided into those directed at legislators and regulators and those directed at planning offices and authorities involved in the planning and approval of wind energy, photovoltaic and biogas systems and pumped storage power facilities. Reference to the basic research described here is created via specific links to the background chapter.

Download and ordering options for the final report:

  • Schmidt, C., Hage, G., Hoppenstedt, A., Bruns, D., Kühne, O., Schuster, L., Münderlein, D., Bernstein, F., Weber, F., Rossmeier, A., Lachor, M., von Gagern, M. (2018): Landschaftsbild und Energiewende. Volume 1: Grundlagen (basic principles). Dresden, 266 pages. (Download as pdf)
  • Schmidt, C., Hage, G., Hoppenstedt, A., Bruns, D., Kühne, O., Schuster, L., Münderlein, D., Bernstein, F., Weber, F., Rossmeier, A., Lachor, M., von Gagern, M. (2018): Landschaftsbild und Energiewende. Volume 2: Handlungsempfehlungen (recommendations for action). Dresden, 129 pages. (Download as pdf)

Printed copies of the two-volume final report can be ordered free of charge. Please send an e-mail with the postal delivery address and the heading "Bestellung Abschlussbericht Landschaftsbild und Energiewende" (order for Final Report on landscape and the energy transition) to corinna.schmidt(at)avoid-unrequested-mailsBfN.de

Work packages

Work packages

  1. Analysis of the ongoing landscape change and forecast of future changes
  2. The current state of research in the area of landscape and the energy transition
  3. The role of the public in landscape planning
  4. Landscape architecture approaches by students
  5. Summary and publication of results

Project partners

Project partners

Project management

Technische Universität Dresden
Chair of Landscape Planning
Faculty of Architecture, Institute for Landscape Architecture
Helmholtzstr. 10, 01062 Dresden
Prof. Dr. Catrin Schmidt
Tel.: +49 351 463-3-3383
catrin.schmidt(at)avoid-unrequested-mailstu-dresden.de

Project partner

Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences
Rural Areas, Regional Management
Prof. Dr. Dr. Olaf Kühne
Dr. Florian Weber
Weihenstephaner Berg 5, 85354 Freising

Additional project partners

Hage + Hoppenstedt Partner
Gartenstr. 88, 72108 Rottenburg
Gottfried Hage
Tel.: +49 7472 9622-0

Prof. Dipl. Ing. Adrian Hoppenstedt
Fridastr. 24, 30161 Hannover
Tel.: +49 511 344574

Universität Kassel
ASL Architecture - Urban and Regional Planning – Landscape Architecture and Landscape Planning
Gottschalkstr. 26, 34127 Kassel
Prof. Dr. Diedrich Bruns
Tel.: +49 561 804-3559

Funding authority

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
FG II 4.3 Nature conservation and renewable energies
Alte Messe 6, 04103 Leipzig
Dipl.-Ing. Sarah Böttner
Tel.: +49 341 30977 161
Sarah.Boettner(at)avoid-unrequested-mailsBfN.de

 

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