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An Exploration of the Land–(Renewable) Energy Nexus

Bouchra El Houda Lamhamedi and Walter Timo de Vries
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Bouchra El Houda Lamhamedi: School of Engineering and Design, Technische Universität München (TUM), Arcisstrasse 21, 80333 Munich, Germany
Walter Timo de Vries: School of Engineering and Design, Technische Universität München (TUM), Arcisstrasse 21, 80333 Munich, Germany

Land, 2022, vol. 11, issue 6, 1-17

Abstract: The need to understand the connection between land and energy has gained prominence in the calls to opt for renewable energy as part of the climate change mitigation actions. This need derives from the fact that renewable energy resources are site-specific and require rightful access and use of land. The impacts on landscape, land tenure, and land-use patterns of constructing energy facilities are significant, and they may subsequently undermine the authority of local communities. Still, the connection between land and energy is not yet part of integrated development policies and political debates when deciding on renewable energy projects. Therefore, this study critically reviews the land–energy nexus with the aim to understand and explain how the uptake of renewable energy is shaping the land–energy nexus and how renewable energy technologies are evolving and interacting in different regions of the world, particularly in the Global South. Theoretically, the land–energy nexus tends to reflect a dual tension between those who support the rapid expansion of renewable energy projects and those who oppose it due to concerns over land pressure and social impacts. We consider that this contrast is ruled by both the ecological modernization paradigm and the environmental and social justice paradigm, as part of wider environmental and social debates. The study adopts an integrative literature review built on the analysis of existing literature and deductive logical reasoning to create new, exhaustive scientific knowledge focusing on three interdependent dimensions: land requirements and planning policy, environmental impacts, and public opposition, as an informative guidance for future research and policies. The multiple forms of social dispute and agency demonstrate that dominant narratives supporting renewables act as a modern technological fix but provide only a partial solution for the climate and energy crisis. The deployment of renewable energy creates land pressures and spatial patterns of uneven development. These are visible by numerous environmental and social outcomes, which may imperil the sustainability of the investment. Hence, there is the need of a land–energy balance as a new aspect of sustainable development.

Keywords: renewable energy; solar energy; solar PV; solar thermal; wind energy; energy planning; land acquisition; land management; land use; land conflict; rural areas; rural communities; Global South; nexus (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q15 Q2 Q24 Q28 Q5 R14 R52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:11:y:2022:i:6:p:767-:d:822765