Effects of Sustainable Energy Facilities on Landscape: A Case Study of Slovakia

Katarina Pavlickova, Anna Miklosovicova, and Monika Vyskupova

Abstract Sustainable energy, known as renewable energy, is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations. As sustainable energy sources, those most often regarded are hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biomass energy. The impacts of increased sustainable production and consumption are considerably less than the increased supply and the consumption of conventionally produced energy. However, we have to take into consideration also negative effects of new renewable production energy facilities, mainly on the landscape and its characteristics. Their localization could be considered as a factor that affects future settlements’ development: this can be perceived not only as a facility reducing the amount of “green gas emissions” but also as a separate construction in the landscape.

The intent of this contribution is to mention specific aspects of environmental impact assessment of sustainable energy facilities with the emphasis on the role of landscape and landscape ecological evaluation in the Slovak Republic.

Keywords Cumulative effects • Ecological stability • Environmental impact assessment • Landscape • Slovakia • Sustainable energy

7.1 Introduction

Renewable energy implies energy sources that have no undesirable environmental consequences such as combustion of fossil fuels or generation of nuclear energy. Alternative energy sources are renewable and thought to be “free” energy sources

K. Pavlickova (*) • A. Miklosovicova • M. Vyskupova

Department of Landscape Ecology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava, Mlynska dolina B-2, 842 15 Bratislava, The Slovak Republic e-mail: pavlickova60@gmail. com; miklosovicova. anna@gmail. com; monikavyskupova@gmail. com

N. Nakagoshi and J. A. Mabuhay (eds.), Designing Low Carbon Societies in Landscapes, Ecological Research Monographs, DOI 10.1007/978-4-431-54819-5_7, © Springer Japan 2014

because they all have lower carbon emissions compared to conventional energy sources: these include biomass, wind, solar (thermal, photovoltaic, and concen­trated), geothermal, hydroelectric, and tidal energy sources (AES 2011).

After the Kyoto Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, investment in rational uses of energy, savings, and efficiency became the main premise to support the development of new energy. If energy consumption decreases, renewable sources could cover a significant part of the demand of energy, in particular, electricity; if consumption remains uselessly high because inefficient and less energy consuming (acting also on final uses), renewable energy would become a reality, a feasible method even in these sectors. With investments being equal (today all are in the sector of generation from fossil sources), if there was parallel research on how to reduce consumption and wastes considerably (at least 35 %) and on power plants from renewable sources, there would be also a reduction of gas emissions, without any negative influence on development (Iacomelli 2005).

Two slightly differentiated concepts can be identified in the discussion on energy transition. At first, all kinds of energy based on renewable resources found their way into the scientific debate and public discussion. With rising concern for a socially fair, environmentally friendly, and economically feasible future, the focus has shifted to include sustainable energy sources (van Etteger and Stremke 2007).

The growth of renewable sources of energy also stimulates employment in Europe, the creation of new technologies, and improved trade balance (EC 2011). The renewable sources are also considered as a basis for building new energy facilities (new energy power stations), which can be called “sustainable energy facilities” because of their global and regional impacts on the environment. But on the local level also, all these facilities can have their adverse impacts on the environment and especially influencing the landscape. For instance, the emplace­ment of high wind power stations into the country influences the scenery, and solar parks require spacious open ground.

The capacity for sustainable energy production is affected by geographic loca­tion and climate as well as geology and is therefore limited. This perception is based on ecological understanding. But according to Kozova and Pauditsova (2010), landscape suitability must be assessed not only in ecological terms but also in the terms of social and cultural carrying capacity. Environmental impact assessments from simple methods such as checklists to complex predictive models can also evaluate landscape suitability. This idea became a supporting topic for our authen­tic research. Its methods and knowledge are stated in this chapter, “Case Study from Slovakia” (sect. 7.5).