Energy sprawl, land taking and distributed generation: towards a multi-layered density
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The transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources is highly desirable to reduce air pollution, and improve energy efficiency and security. Many observers are concerned, however, that the diffusion of systems based on renewable resources may give rise to energy sprawl, i.e. an increasing occupation of available land to build new energy facilities of this kind. These critics foresee a transition from the traditional fossil-fuel systems, towards a renewable resource system likewise based on large power stations and extensive energy grids. A different approach can be taken to reduce the risk of energy sprawl, and this will happen if the focus is as much on renewable sources as on the introduction of distributed renewable energy systems based on micro plants (photovoltaic panels on the roofs of buildings, micro wind turbines, etc.) and on multiple micro-grids. Policy makers could foster local energy enterprises by: introducing new enabling rules; making more room for contractual communities; simplifying the compliance process; proposing monetary incentives and tax cuts. We conclude that the diffusion of innovation in this field will lead not to an energy sprawl but to a new energy system characterized by a multi-layered density: a combination of technology, organization, and physical development. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.