Renewable Energy is often seen as chance, for instance to solve global environmental problems, to strengthen regional economies, to cope communal budget crises or as vehicle for new, participative governance-approaches. However, in mountainous areas such as the Alps renewable energies also have to cope with particular dichotomies such as high energy potential versus high biodiversity or required space versus limited available space. Several conflicts arise out of such dichotomies – however, can these conflicts also offer specific chances for alpine regions? This question was scrutinised among others at a conference for geographers in Passau (DE, 2.-8. October). We would like to bring two theses into discussion which are central for recharge.green:
- The expansion of renewable energy is linked with environmental consequences that are interpreted and weighted differently by the involved stakeholders (for instance regarding global climate protection, local nature conservation, recreational value, landscape aesthetics, …)
- The expansion of renewable energy is not only driven by ecological issues but also by strong economic and social forces for achieving diverse political goals
Consequently, the question whether renewable energies result in chances or conflict cannot be directly answered. It must be seen as a political process of negotiating various goals. But how can a fair and transparent basis for communicating different interests be established? In this context the status-quo analysis in the pilot areas of recharge.green is a key task for revealing the actual situation for instance on energy, biodiversity, ecosystem services, governance approach, legal framework and social movements. Only with a good data base, sustainable decisions can be made.
What do you think? Is the conflict a chance for alpine regions? Can the conflict even contribute to a better awareness of the valuable alpine diversity?