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June 6th - 8th 2007 : Emerging Energies, Emerging landscapes : Revisioning the Past, Constructing the Future

Exploratory Workshop sponsored by the European Science Foundation (ESF)

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Over the past decade, the European Union (EU) has initiated a process of reforming energy sectors and energy policy. While it is clear that energy has always played an important role in the structuring of landscapes, the ongoing changes in the European energy mix triggers new interest in the landscape-energy relationship.
Due to their decentralized pattern, the spatial impacts of renewable energies provide a perceptible link to energy generation. It reminds us in many ways that our energy comes from somewhere, which contributes in raising consciousness about the impacts and consequences of our energy demand. Spatial impacts could thus be regarded as the recomposition of socio-technical links to energy generation and its environmental impact. Landscape is one important instance of such links, not the sole, but of particular interest as it calls for new policy schemes in order to open up decision processes and integrate a new dimension into energy policies.
European countries have developed a variety of policy schemes in order to foster the development of renewable energies. Many of these schemes are intending to address both energy and spatial issues. As these emerging policies face a variety of challenges, a renewed understanding of landscape issues seems to be called for in order to improve policy instruments.
The notion and practice of landscape can be revisted through the analysis of planning and/or siting processes in order to reach a better understanding of the process of social construction of landscape. This should be done with regards to contemporary renewable energy technologies and the development and appraisal of related policies, but also with regards to more traditional energy generation (e.g. hydro and other conventional electricity utilities ...).
The proposed workshop will have a strong focus on the cross-fertilisation between policy research on renewables and the more theoretical research strands on landscape. It aims to explore landscape-energy issues by structuring discussions around a number of empirical and more theoretically oriented contributions, so we are looking for :

- Theoretical contributions coming from fields such as science and technology studies, cultural geography (including planning theories), political sciences, anthropology of landscape, landscape design ... Contributions might consider the ability of theoretical frameworks to capture the multi-dimensionality (i.e. relational, social, environmental, material, spatial, aesthetic...) of the process of landscape construction,

- Case study contributions dealing with the development of renewable energies (e.g. wind power, biomass) or of more convential types of energies (e.g. hydro, thermic, high powered grids ...). Case studies should include landscape as a salient issue. They might come from different European countries and different disciplinary fields.

A constructive approach will be called for during the workshop, inspired by process approaches to landscape construction. Contributions should be the occasion to exchange national experiences (in terms of policy and culture), identify potential field studies, structure heuristic assumptions and methodological steps in order to pursue further research with regards to the possible emergence of new energy landscapes. The organising team aims for the workshop to result (a) in a special issue in an international peer reviewed journal, and (b) in agenda-setting for a research proposal.

For more details please contact Alain Nadai nadai@centre-cired.fr