On February 23rd, for the 21st time the Geo Promotion foundation organizes a geographic planning event, this time in the Martinikerk and the Provinciehuis. The theme is: ‘’Energize the future, spatial implementation of energy policies’’. In this article we like to further explain the relevance of this theme for our field. At the event, the theme will be highlighted by keynote speakers, a panel discussion and different workshops. It is possible to apply through this link. We hope to welcome you the 23rd at the Martinikerk!

The urgency of an energy transition
The earth is warming up. Measurements around the world show that the last 30 years have probably been the warmest period in 1400 years. Further warming of the world will have major social consequences, such as extreme droughts and heavy rainfalls.

It has been shown that the consumption of fossil fuels and thus the emission of greenhouse gases has a great influence on the climate. This awareness is shared by almost all countries in the world. During the climate summit in Paris in 2015, joint agreements were made for the first time by national authorities to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The international climate goals get flesh on the bones in the legislation of local authorities. For example, the province of Groningen aims to generate their energy demand in a sustainable way by the end of 2050 and created the goal to be energy-neutral on balance. In line with governments, businesses are also increasingly investigating the possibilities of green energy. The urgency is felt on the full breath of the social playing field. For example, at local level, green parties are helping to exchange knowledge to build greener and generate energy.

When implementing renewable energy policies in space, location, and environmental context, there are still some bumps to be taken. In the remainder of this article, three geographical implications will be mentioned followed by three social reasons for investing in green energy.

Geographical implications
First, the use of renewable energy resources re-introduces the friction of distance into energy systems. The natural flows of these new energy forms, like solar insolation and falling water, cannot be transported and must therefore be converted into usable forms of energy at the site where they occur. The integration of renewable energy resources into the fuel mix exposes an increasing number of communities and individuals to energy production and conversion activities. Second, renewable energy resources cannot be centralized on the same scale and intensity as fossil energy resources. The scale at which renewable energy facilities can deliver usable forms of energy is therefore naturally limited. Third, the boundaries between spaces of energy production and spaces of energy consumption are dissolved through renewable energy development and implementation. This is because renewable energy production facilities cannot be centralized in relatively few locations and dislocated ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as has historically been the case for fossil energy systems.

Social implications
Unlike with fossil fuels, societies itself should cooperate in producing green energy. Often, this demands a proactive attitude and a willingness to participate in the energy transition. The reasons why people would opt for renewable energy are different. A division can be made in egoistic, biospheric or altruistic motifs. Examples include reducing energy costs, saving nature as we know it or helping (future) fellow human beings with sustainable living. Research has shown that a more environmentally-conscious view of the world results in a greater chance of investing in sustainable living. Societies must therefore also be stimulated from below in order to be sustainable.

The need to switch to a more sustainable energy supply is becoming clearer by the day. The character of this new form of energy, however, is fundamentally different. The change is not only felt by the whole society, but must also be borne by the whole society. Governments, businesses and citizens will have to work together to limit climate change and keep our planet livable for future generations. The 21th Geo Promotion event offers a platform for professionals from the working field and students to talk about the environmental, social and technical challenges that comes with the energy transition. During the event, we invite you to bring your theoretical knowledge in practice and to connect with interesting thinkers and professionals from the working field. Together, we will make a contribution to the energy transition by facing the spatial implementations of energy policies.

Top picture: Geo Promotion (2018).