Strategies of expertise in technical controversies: a study of wood energy development

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In these scenarios, storage and transmission losses have not been considered as they were beyond the scope of the study. To achieve this, the production of renewable energy has to be increased significantly by assuming a linear approach. The actual required amount is based on the results of the estimation. It is also worth mentioning that the accuracy of the estimation is not of that high importance—even if there are some deviations, the strategies to implement the increase of renewable energy production will still be correct, if prioritized correctly e.

Deviations might occur in a later phase, when—almost certainly—more data will be available to be used to revise the strategy.

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As energy scenarios deal with uncertain futures, decision-making is often based upon non-quantifiable factors. It is therefore important to enable exchange and synthesis of ideas between decision-makers and scientists in scenario analysis. Research by design, in turn, is used to support the process of establishing a dialogue between these key actors.

In line with Sijmons et al. From this, key strategies developed in the different scenarios could be synthesized and analysed, according to the similarities and differences in the combinations of energy sources and land use.

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In a last step, by overlay of matching spatial strategies, the renewable energy potentials for Vorderland-Feldkirch were re-evaluated using GIS analysis. The main task was therefore to set up a workshop format that allowed comparable scenarios in a parallel working process of approximately 30 participants with different professional background to be created. Each group consisted of experts in energy planning as well as stakeholders of the region. Therefore, the planning game had to be easily understood by the participants with limited knowledge in energy technology but, concurrently, it had to contain all the necessary information to come up with scientifically documented and comparable energy scenarios.

In this respect, one main challenge was to find an analogue way to record the estimated energy output of spatial decisions. Different renewable energy sources had to be represented in such a way that the participants are able to judge their spatial impact and, at the same time, to record their contribution to a potential energy scenario. Aggregated result of three scenarios developed during the workshop: the identified areas for the production of renewable energy in the region of Vorderland-Feldkirch. Areas within patch no. It is clearly evident that there are differences in the classification as well as the level of detail.


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Moreover, it is obvious from the example of patch no. The outcome of the groups can be divided into three main topics: the chosen mix of renewable energy sources, the spatial-qualitative principles concerning the distribution of plants, and the preferences for potential land-use combinations. For the first topic, the aggregated results show that the participants judge the potential to expand the traditional forms of renewable energy hydropower and biomass rather low. Most sites are already in use, and therefore, these sources do not have enough potential to cover the energy scenarios.

This is only possible in combination with sources that have not yet frequently been used. Sources that were considered to have high potential were wind power and photovoltaics for the production of electricity and the large-scale exploitation of solar and geothermal heat. The second topic refers to the spatial-qualitative principles to site renewable energy. The common assumption that the hinterland is the main source of renewable energy could not be confirmed. Instead, the participants had identified the largest renewable energy potential in the direct vicinity of the existing built-up areas rather than in remote countryside areas.

The results showed interesting spatial strategies such as clustering renewable energy plants alongside mobility axes and settlements. The same principle was used to identify the biomass potentials. Only a few forest and agricultural areas were selected. Concerning the third topic, depending on the energy source, similarities and differences were detected in what participants considered suitable land-use combinations. All groups preferred to site wind turbines in a concentrated way on ridges where the highest energy gain is to be expected and placed photovoltaic systems not only onto large-scale roof areas, but also within commercial areas and brownfields.

The outskirts of towns and villages and open areas adjacent to roads and industry were the preferred areas for the large-scale exploitation of solar and geothermal heat. Areas classified using zoning data suitable for the generation of photovoltaic energy. Possible amount of energy production within patch no. This combination may be a new approach and can easily be applied in many regions besides the case study region. Especially, the cooperation between local experts e. The main advantage of the planning-games-method was that it combined spatial and energy-technical knowledge of various experts in the process of identifying regional renewable energy potentials.

By doing so, the method spurs on the discussion about the impacts of setting energy goals and raises awareness for the support of energy transition. Furthermore, the method is capable of providing new insights into the relationship between available and required land for renewable energy production on the scale of the city region. During the practical empirical work, one rather often faces the challenge to deal with insufficient data.

For the given goal—to gather information on the path to energy autonomy—it was not of major importance to know everything exactly but rather to identify a way to work with these uncertainties. Providing rough estimates and basic data turned out to be sufficient to enable local stakeholders to work on a vision, even a strategy, focusing on the most relevant energy sources.


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Of course, the results need to be prioritized and revised periodically but definitely can be used to develop an initial rough strategy. The second GIS analysis for adapting the results to more realistic levels also supports the estimation of the potentials of renewable energy sources by focusing on certain areas that local stakeholders have already classified as suitable. Therefore, local knowledge—probably also having in mind which areas might be mobilized for the purpose of energy generation—combined with expert knowledge to calculate a better estimation of possible gains proved to be a very successful and accepted method.

As an outlook, we now want to line up not only what parts of the method have been successful, but also what could not be managed so far. The method shown in this case study has been enhanced and used three more times with different audiences in the meantime. Anyway, there are many possibilities to improve the approach in the future:. A decent evaluation of the land use competition aspects should be carried out as well. Our method also does not yet include an in-depth environmental assessment for all the reference examples, what would be helpful for future versions as well.

Fortunately, there is a lot of knowledge and literature on the environmental impacts of renewable energies, e. Another weakness of our method is that it cannot help at all to solve or even visualize the complex energy system management that is required to tackle the daily and seasonal fluctuations of the overall energy demand.

Furthermore, the storage and distribution patterns that are required to secure a fail-safe energy supply have not been considered so far. Nevertheless, the method turned out to be able to activate the local stakeholders rather easily to provide sometimes sophisticated results. This is especially true for some of the issues that have not been addressed so far can be improved, such as the competition between renewable energy sources, as well as availability of sufficient data.

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Strategies of Expertise in Technical Controversies

What is the organizational setup of a regional land management, able to negotiate between energy demand and energy production potential? Those questions were explored with governance analysis methods mainly guided interviews ; the results actor mappings, regional governance recommendations, list of drivers and barriers of co-operation are not covered within this paper.

They can be found in the long version of the report; see project website. In the Netherlands and in Germany, the regional planning authorities are also much better equipped with financial and human resources as in Austrian districts and regions. KEM is an Austrian aid programme to support energy change developments [ 29 ]. Vorarlberg, the location of the test area in the study, is a federal state in the very west of Austria, adjacent to Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany.

The authors would like to thank all the participants of the scenario workshop for the inspiring contributions in the scenario workshop. The samples do not display any energy site records that can combine more than one renewable carrier e. All other tables and figures, sources: [ 31 ]. HD and PN designed and compiled the energy site catalogue together.

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PN mainly developed the cardboard game workshop setup. KW prepared the energy consumption scenarios as well as the post-GIS analysis. All the authors contributed to the conclusions, the abstract, and the outlook of the case study and read and approved the final manuscript. Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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