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Photovoltaic Landscapes. Criteria for Project Quality of Solar-photovoltaic Systems in Emilia-Romagna

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The research addresses the issue of environmental and landscape impacts related to the spread of production facilities of energy from renewable sources, with particular reference to ground photovoltaic. The study was carried out on the territory of the Emilia-Romagna Region in the context of preliminary studies for the process of adjustment of the Regional Landscape Plan.

The purpose of the research, strongly design-oriented, is to promote the production of renewable energy ensuring an adequate sustainability, estimated from legislative choices already adopted by the Region. Thereby affirming the need to raise a debate on this "sector" linked to a sustainable evolution of the contemporary landscape.

The research is divided into four phases:

  • definition of the regulatory framework as a consistent reference to the regional arrangement of the goals of improving design: development of thematic information layers to the overlap between instruments traditionally associated with landscape and environment protection, decrees on photovoltaic energy, to identify an preliminary catalog of areas significantly affected by the inclusion process of photovoltaic systems;
  • accurate identification of the impacts of a photovoltaic system on primary resources and their minimization measures: construction of a synthetic reference plan for the evaluation of the recurring impacts of a photovoltaic system in its different stages of life. For each identified impact, we have been given minimization and compensation measures (already experimented and most reliable in the national and international context);
  • interpretation of regional landscapes for the development of specific design strategies: after the Phase 1 areas identification and the set of impacts and compensation measures presented in phase II, the landscape texture of each regional landscape is taken and reinterpreted, according to a codified design method and trough repeatable actions, like a real "measure" of admissible transformations in every context. Landscape elements and their physical and functional relationships were taken as matrix for the project, a true "measure" which regroups the placement, the operation and the decommissioning of the power plants;
  • simulation of new desirable photovoltaic landscapes in urbanized environments: the research ends with the hope that the photovoltaic project is fully implemented in highly urbanized contexts - close to structures that require more energy to operate - such as production facilities, connection infrastructures, large public facilities (healthcare, education to sports, waste disposal). In particular, simulations tend to highlight how in such contexts the production of renewable energy can be an occasion of improvement (especially in this times of resources scarcity), that does not leave much room for hope of renovation disconnected from clear horizons of economic feasibility.

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