A GIS Tool to Estimate the Land Footprint of Renewable Energy Sources to Cover the Thermal Energy Demand
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New conflicts have been arising between energy production and nature conservation, as a consequence of promoting policies for exploiting renewable sources in order to tackle climate change. Assessing the amount of additional land required for renewable energy production has become a crucial aspect of natural resource exploitation. Two research paths are here considered in an attempt to assess this needed additional space in relation to the amount of energy produced by RES (Renewable Energy Source) and the heating demand of a territory. We use open source GIS tools to estimate the energy potential of three energy sources. We examine the relationship between the potential of each energy source and the land use change given by its exploitation in a selected study area. The presented work estimates the potential of the RES, compared this potential with the estimated thermal demand and calculate the amount of land use change required to supply a certain area. A site-specific model is developed for EU28 and estimates the RES potential available trying to minimize the change of the current land-use and the environmental impacts. The analysis considered the technical losses that are required to use the forest biomass, wind and solar energy at regional level. Decision makers can use the analysis resulting from this study to define sustainable policies in terms of renewable energy planning and avoid energy related land use changes and conflicts at local level.
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