Forum 2016 - Infrastructure Space - Detroit (Ruby Press)

227 226 demand; unnecessarily large systems should be avoided to reduce energy loss. Finally, the concept of hierarchy is useful for the understanding of energy systems at the regional scale; each system can be part of a larger supersystem and, in turn, may com- prise several subsystems. A first important step for the de- velopment of alternative energy regions is to map present-day energy systems. A second step is to map renewable and residual energy poten- tials. Although the case study exa- mined here focuses on the municipa- lities of Coevorden and Emmen, it is also useful in mapping networks that cross the region. Existing superregio- nal energy networks could influence, for example, the location of new wind turbines within the region. Not only are sufficient wind speeds needed, so is access to high-voltage power lines. A regional approach to the design of sustainable energy landscapes also implies looking for synergies among the different urban and rural uses of land. Both the finance and costs of energy distribution depend on the spatial characteristics of a region. A regional approach to energy transition also necessitates conside- ring possible future developments— regional developments (e.g., increa- sing the number of greenhouses), as well as developments outside the region (e.g., new coal-fired power plants in Eemshaven), may affect the regional energy landscape. To conclude, a regional approach to energy transition can assist the synchronization of energy-conscious interventions that take place in va- rious locations and across different scales. It also has the potential to bridge the gap between (inter)nati- onal targets and local initiatives. At the regional scale, long-term strate- gies and short-term actions can be integrated effectively to transform today’s fossil-fuel dependent environ- ment into a more sustainable energy landscape. More importantly, stake- holder values and preferences can be accommodated effectively in the regi- onal design process. The Southeast Drenthe study presented here revea- led concrete energy-conscious inter- ventions, facilitated lively discussions, and raised the attention of key deci- sion-makers in the region—three key ingredients for a successful energy transition. Acknowledgments Earlier research for this essay was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Ferry van Kann (Groningen University, the Netherlands) and Prof. Dr. Jusuck Koh (Wageningen University, the Netherlands). The author also wishes to acknowledge the other researchers of the SREX research project funded by SenterNovem/Ministry of Econo- mic Affairs. 1. S. E. Owens, “Energy and Spatial Struc- ture: A Rural Example,” Environment and Planning A 16, no. 10 (1984): 1319–37, doi:10.1068/a161319. 2. Carla Balocco and Giuseppe Grazzini, “Thermodynamic Parameters for Ener- gy Sustainability of Urban Areas,” So- lar Energy 69, no. 4 (2000): 351–56, regional biogas grids, as proposed for Southeast Drenthe, offers an alter- native approach. Such smaller scale (and low pressure) gas networks further strengthen the case for stu- dying energy systems at the regional scale. Heat and cold networks represent a third type of energy network. In a number of countries—Denmark, for example—the combination of heat network and CHPs is very common. CHPs are an energy-efficient alter- native to conventional power plants, where residual heat is simply emitted into nearby bodies of water or into the atmosphere. Most heat grids extend over a district (district hea- ting) or a city (urban heat network). In some countries such as Germany and Austria, however, heat networks have been created in villages and low-density rural landscapes. If a heat grid transports heat of different ca- loric values between various kinds of consumers, it is also referred to as a “heat cascade.” Such a heat casca- de has been proposed for Emmen to further improve the already existing heat network in the city. Finally, a certain hierarchy exists between the various interrelated ener- gy systems in Southeast Drenthe. On the one hand, some energy systems (e.g., electricity grids) operate beyond the region. On the other hand, the region contains several smaller ener- gy systems (e.g., existing heat grids with heat plants in Emmen). It remains important to stress that the proposed low-pressure biogas network and heat cascade are context-specific interventions that highly depend on other (higher order) levels in the ener- gy system (e.g., biogas plants and CHPs). There is no single system; several interrelated energy systems coexist at various spatial scales. It is expected that the number and diver- sity of energy systems will increase as part of the energy transition. Such a development would be beneficial to create a resilient energy landscape because diversified energy systems are capable of coping with possible shortfalls of a source while diversifi- cation may also, in a market economy, help to balance fluctuating energy prices. Conclusion There is a great potential to develop sustainable energy landscapes beyond the architectural and urban scale. In the Netherlands and beyond, an increasing number of provinces and regions are committed to beco- ming self-sufficient with regards to energy. They are looking for knowled- ge to develop alternative energy landscapes that can be sustained on the basis of locally available renewab- le and residual energy sources. Three concepts from systems thinking are pertinent to the pursuit of an energy transition at the regional scale. Energy systems are thermody- namically open systems ; their spatial extent and relation with a particular energy region can be described ma- king use of geographical, spatial, and energetic indicators. A certain system size is necessary to match supply and