Spatial context matters: Assessing how future renewable energy pathways will impact nature and society

Delafield, Gemma, Smith, Greg S., Day, Brett, Holland, Robert A., Donnison, Caspar, Hastings, Astley, Taylor, Gail, Owen, Nathan and Lovett, Andrew ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0554-9273 (2024) Spatial context matters: Assessing how future renewable energy pathways will impact nature and society. Renewable Energy, 220. ISSN 0960-1481

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Abstract

Pathways to decarbonisation are commonly explored by government and industry through the use of energy system models. However, such models rarely consider where new energy infrastructure might be located. This is problematic as the spatial context of new renewable energy infrastructure will determine, in part, the environmental, social, and technical impacts of the energy transition. This paper presents the ADVENT-NEV model which brings together innovations in energy and natural capital modelling to identify the optimal locations of multiple renewable energy technologies at a national scale and high spatial resolution. Using Great Britain as a case study, the results show how the spatial distribution of renewable energy technologies changes when a natural capital approach is taken. In particular, the least-cost locations for onshore wind farms and bioenergy crops are highly influenced by the value of carbon sequestration, or emissions associated with their land use change. Siting using a natural capital approach produced appreciable ecosystem service benefits, such that the overall welfare gain to society was estimated at nearly £25 B. Overall, this paper demonstrates that understanding the geospatial context of the energy transition is essential to identifying which renewable energy pathways are consistent with decarbonisation and environmental objectives.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding statement: This research was undertaken through UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Programmes, principally the ADdressing the Valuation of Energy and Nature Together (ADVENT) project. This was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) (NE/M019713/1; NE/M019640/1; NE/M019705/1; NE/M019691/1; NE/M019799/1; NE/M019764/1) as well the UK Research and Innovation Energy Programme (EP/S029575/1). Research through the Feasibility of Afforestation and Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage for Greenhouse Gas Removal (FAB-GGR) (NE/P019951/1) project and the Advancing Analysis of Natural Capital in Landscape Decisions (ADVANCES) project (NE/T002115/1) was also incorporated into this study. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a ‘Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising. Data access statement: All data used in the ADVENT-NEV model is detailed in the Supplementary Information and Figure 1. Not all of the data is open access as some is commercially sensitive. The modelling results are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 7 - affordable and clean energy,sdg 15 - life on land ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/affordable_and_clean_energy
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE)
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Environmental Social Sciences
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2023 00:45
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2023 03:16
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/93322
DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2023.119385

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