Renewables in Europe: Land requirements can be reduced at low cost

August 07, 2020

Transitioning our energy supply from coal, oil and gas to wind and solar power is feasible. However, renewables require more land than conventional forms of energy generation. A new study explores the options to reduce the land requirements of a fully renewable energy supply in Europe and their possible impact on the cost of electricity.

The most affordable option for a fully renewable electricity supply in Europe is based on solar parks and onshore windfarms. However, this solution requires some 97,000 km2 land, or roughly 2% of the total area of the European Union - an area equivalent to the size of Portugal.

Offshore wind and solar energy can reduce land requirements

Wind and solar farms change landscapes and their development is frequently the subject of controversy. This is especially true in the case of onshore windfarms, currently the most important technology behind the European energy transition, as these occupy large areas and are visible from a long distance. Prioritizing the adoption of other electricity generation infrastructures in the future could reduce the space requirements of a fully renewable electricity system. According to the study, three options could be pursued individually or in combination to achieve this goal: Offshore wind power, large solar parks, and roof-top solar systems. Each of these technologies could limit land use to about 48,000 square kilometres - one percent of the area of Europe - or even less.

Additional costs are low

According to the study, offshore wind power is particularly cost-effective and could reduce onshore land requirements by 50 percent at an additional cost of five percent compared to the cheapest option. Replacing onshore wind farms with large solar parks or roof-top solar systems would incur additional costs of up to 20 percent. "We have to decide, as a society, how much we value open land," explains the study's author Tim Tröndle. The well-planned expansion of offshore wind power and solar energy offers opportunities to effectively reduce onshore land requirements at a low additional cost.
-end-


Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS)

Related Solar Energy Articles from Brightsurf:

'Transparent solar cells' can take us towards a new era of personalized energy
Solar power has shown immense potential as a futuristic, 'clean' source of energy.

CU Denver researcher analyzes the use of solar energy at US airports
By studying 488 public airports in the United States, University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs researcher Serena Kim, PhD, found that 20% of them have adopted solar photovoltaic (PV), commonly known as solar panels, over the last decade.

Researchers develop molecule to store solar energy
Researchers at Linköping University, Sweden, have developed a molecule that absorbs energy from sunlight and stores it in chemical bonds.

Converting solar energy to hydrogen fuel, with help from photosynthesis
Global economic growth comes with increasing demand for energy, but stepping up energy production can be challenging.

New nanodevice could use solar energy to produce hydrogen
Amsterdam, June 9, 2020 - Solar energy is considered by some to be the ultimate solution to address the current energy crisis and global warming and the environmental crises brought about by excessive consumption of fossil fuels.

Physicists develop approach to increase performance of solar energy
Experimental condensed matter physicists in the Department of Physics at the University of Oklahoma have developed an approach to circumvent a major loss process that currently limits the efficiency of commercial solar cells.

Lasers etch a 'perfect' solar energy absorber
In Light: Science and Applications, University of Rochester researchers demonstrate how laser etching of metallic surfaces creates the ''perfect solar energy absorber.'' This not only enhances energy absorption from sunlight, but also reduces heat dissipation at other wavelengths.

Mapping the energy transport mechanism of chalcogenide perovskite for solar energy use
Researchers from Lehigh University have, for the first time, revealed first-hand knowledge about the fundamental energy carrier properties of chalcogenide perovskite CaZrSe3, important for potential solar energy use.

New hybrid device can both capture and store solar energy
Researchers have reported a new device that can both efficiently capture solar energy and store it until it is needed, offering promise for applications ranging from power generation to distillation and desalination.

Materials that can revolutionize how light is harnessed for solar energy
Columbia scientists designed organic molecules capable of generating two excitons per photon of light, a process called singlet fission.

Read More: Solar Energy News and Solar Energy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.