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Conflicts between energy production and landscape services

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Renewable energy production (wind power, hydropower, solar power, geothermal energy and biomass) is a landscape service with growing importance and high political relevance in Switzerland. The expansion of energy production will have a strong impact on competing landscape services such as agricultural production, recreation, tourism, biodiversity conservation and aesthetics.


Research questions:

  1.  What landscape impacts (type and spatial distribution) can be expected from the production and transportation of renewable energy?
  2. What is the conflict potential between the production and transportation of renewable energy and other landscape services?
  3. What is the spatial pattern of potential conflicts between renewable energy and other landscape services?


  1.  Develop maps of areas with high potential for renewable energy production.
  2. Calculate maps of selected landscape services.
  3. Identify conflicts by overlaying suitable locations for energy production with the ones for other selected landscape services.
  4. Spatial and textual description of conflicts
  5. Verification of the conflict maps on a regional scale based on newspaper articles and interviews.


We generated maps for the landscape services aesthetics, recreation/tourism, cultural heritage, drinking water and habitat/species were produced and overlaid with the energy potential of wind and solar (Roof- and open space installations on ingrowing areas and on intensely used agricultural fields adjacent to industrial areas). Additionaly the energy potential for wooden biomass of existing forests and for small hydro power plants was spatially modeled. A report with maps for the different conflicts between renewable energies and other landscape services was produced.

Furthermore the amount of energy that can be produced by exclusion of different conflict areas was calculated. An expert workshop helped to evaluate strenghts and weaknesses of the conflict analysis.

Further we validated the models with expert interviews and news reports about the conflicts with renewable energy.