An Integrative Spatial Perspective on Energy Transition: Renewable Energy Niches
The shift towards sustainable use of renewable energy accompanied by noteworthy improvements in energy efficiency and reduced consumption is considered as a fundamental element of energy transition. However, framing the role of the sustainable energy development in a monofunctional way does not allow to use its multifunctional potential linked to sustainable development efficiently and may result in disconnection between energy and broader spatial and urban development agenda. This, in turn, can underplay the importance of potential synergy effects between renewable energy production and use and its localized context. This paper presents the narrative that single although innovative solutions are insufficient and poor integration of sustainable energy initiatives creates barriers to achieve sustainability and limits potential synergies with their spatial context. We discuss this phenomenon in relation to new demands on integrative and spatially sensitive approaches to the renewable energy development, often catalysed by ICT hand in hand with the implementation of smart grids – a backbone of the smart city concept. In our attempt was to better understand how renewable energy systems and initiatives emerge, how to maintain and enhance them, and under which conditions they co-evolve with their unique context in a more structured and productive way towards the vision of smart city and hence also recognizes the multifunctional potential of sustainable energy developments. In order to do so, we propose to learn more from both spatial planning and transition management (niche-based) perspectives. Finally, this paper outlines several areas for further research as well as reminds some of the related scientific challenges and disparities between energy and spatial planning.
KeywordsEnergy transition Niche management Renewable energy Smart city Spatial planning
This contribution is the result of the project implementation: SPECTRA+ No. 26240120002 “Centre of Excellence for the Development of Settlement Infrastructure of Knowledge Economy” supported by the Research and Development Operational Programme funded by the ERDF.
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