A Place under the Sun: Planning, Landscape and Participation in a Case of a Solar Powerplant in the Israeli Desert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Studies demonstrate the lack of common interpretations and rigorous methods for landscape assessments (LA) during design and siting of renewable energy (RES) facilities. Research shows how perceived landscape impacts influence public willingness to accept changes in the landscape. The connection between the effectiveness of LA procedures vis-à-vis the inclusion of the public in decision-making related to RES siting has received less attention. We, therefore, examine the role of LAs in planning via the eyes of policymakers and experts, and evaluate the capacity of current tools to influence the process. Additionally, we analyze the role (or lack thereof) of the public in LAs. Our unique case—one of the largest in the world thermo-solar “tower” plant, located near a small desert village—exemplifies the place for landscape consideration in national-level mega-infrastructure. Based on documents analysis and semi-structured interviews, the findings demonstrate the struggle between competing goals such as financial and temporal efficiency, RES targets, landscape protection, and public participation. We conclude that first, despite independent efforts to promote the latter two, there may be little connection between the assessment of landscape effects and public participation because there is no mechanism for post-evaluation of a project’s impacts, and any debates on the actual effects remain theoretical. Second, that landscape impacts of large-scape infrastructure can mainly be avoided in the stage of site location, and at this stage, the room for public input remains limited.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7666
JournalSustainability
Volume14
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Negev desert
  • environmental impact assessment (EIA)
  • infrastructure
  • landscape assessment
  • planning
  • public participation
  • solar energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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