ارزیابی زیست محیطی استراتژیک برای تولید انرژی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|5695||2010||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||7848 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Energy Policy, Volume 38, Issue 7, July 2010, Pages 3489–3497
Amongst the approaches that have developed to improve environmental protection within the energy sector, strategic environmental assessment (SEA) has received relatively little attention. This is despite its potential to overcome some of the shortcomings associated with project-level assessment by intervening at higher levels of energy system planning. In this article, a review is presented of the extent to which SEA has been adopted and otherwise promoted in strategic energy planning processes in a wide range of countries throughout the world (with an emphasis on European Union nations). In this regard, the growing importance of regulatory compliance is underlined, especially within the EU, with a particular focus upon the application of SEA to grid systems. The case of the Belgian transmission system is described, illustrating a proactive approach to SEA. But the difficulties inherent in introducing SEA to an increasingly fragmented and liberalised sector are also drawn out, leading to suggestions by which these difficulties may be addressed.
The consideration of environmental issues is now central to the development of energy policy and to the activities of the energy industry, whether in the search for more sustainable forms of energy or in the expectation of improved environmental performance by industrial operators (Hinrichs and Kleinbach, 2006). Within this context, more widely established approaches for achieving higher levels of environmental protection are taking on increasing importance. In particular, environmental impact assessment (EIA) is now a commonly accepted practice when developing energy infrastructure, and is a regulatory requirement in many jurisdictions around the world (Petts, 1999). However, there are questions about the ability of EIA to deal adequately with the challenges now associated with energy supply; EIA is geared to the environmental improvement of individual projects, whereas the issues we now face need to be addressed at a higher level of planning, at a regional, national or even super-national scale, and environmental protection needs to be built into overall energy frameworks at a much earlier stage of conception. This is not an argument that is unique to energy supply. Similar points have been made in relation to other sectors that have major consequences for the natural and human environment, such as transport and urban development (Thérivel et al., 1992). This has led to the emergence of a form of environmental assessment which is introduced during earlier stages of governance than the point of project planning, such as during the formation of sectoral policy. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is now becoming an established practice, with legal backing in some jurisdictions (Dalal-Clayton and Sadler, 2005). But SEA has not yet been widely adopted in relation to energy production. This is partly because of the relatively fragmented nature of the industry which makes strategic planning itself more difficult (Byron and Sheate, 1997). Arguably, however, the need for SEA is greatest within this sector, given its centrality to the now generally accepted overwhelming need for carbon reduction, and to other longer-standing environmental concerns, such as air quality and landscape issues. In this article, I present the background to the emergence of SEA, including regulatory initiatives that have fostered its growth, and review the extent to which it has been practiced within the energy sector. I then focus on the uptake of SEA within the electricity industry, which is, for a number of reasons, one area where SEA is making some progress; this is illustrated with reference to the Belgian transmission system. Conclusions are then drawn about both the challenges and opportunities of a wider application of SEA to the development of energy strategies.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The examples given above of SEA within the energy sector are inevitably incomplete, but present a picture of steadily growing interest in SEA as a tool for incorporating environmental considerations more effectively into the development of energy systems. The contribution that SEA and related methods could make to energy strategies is being increasingly noted and demonstrated especially at a hypothetical level, through a growing number of academic exercises and other trials. However, the experience of officially sanctioned energy-related SEAs remains relatively scant, suggesting that authorised practice remains slow to develop; this trend has previously been noted when a comparison is made with the take-up of SEA in other essential service sectors (Byron and Sheate, 1997). The two main exceptions to this appear to be in relation to offshore resources and grid systems, where there is some progress in making SEA an accepted feature of energy planning. The case of Elia, in Belgium, suggests a proactive take-up of SEA in which the organisation is seeking positive gains from the process for its development activities. One of the key elements to this success (from an SEA point of view), and common to most of the examples given for both offshore resources and grid systems, is the statutory backing that SEA now enjoys in some areas. This is worth further exploration, by looking in more detail at the legal provision for SEA in the EU, as the jurisdiction with the most developed and dedicated SEA legislation to date. Here, I focus particularly on the implications of the SEA Directive for the planning of grid systems. At first sight, the SEA Directive appears to have a very wide scope, requiring SEA to be carried out for “all plans and programmes which are prepared for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, transport, waste management, water management, telecommunications, tourism, town, and country planning or land use” (EC, 2001, Article 3). However, there are a number of caveats, or screening criteria. First, the plan/programme must set the framework for development projects which come under the EU’s EIA legislation. Second, the plan/programme must have official status of some kind, being prepared by an authority (whether national, regional or local) with a statutory responsibility for a public service. Thirdly, the plan/programme itself must have a statutory basis and not just be prepared voluntarily by the authority (European Commission, 2001 and European Commission, 2003). In other words, the directive envisages mainly the assessment of official public sector strategies, leading typically to large-scale and/or widespread infrastructure essential for public services or necessary for wider economic activity. Indeed, SEA more generally has been restricted to major, public land-use and sectoral planning, and some funding activities (Thérivel, 2004). This contrasts with the relatively meagre attention given to SEA by organisations operating in the private sector of national economies, partly because of the absence of regulatory pressure to practice SEA. Hence one of the difficulties involved in extending SEA practice to energy production is the fact that the industry is increasingly operating within the domain of the private sector, which is less conducive than the public sector to the application of SEA. This is the result of the global trend towards the privatisation of state-owned enterprises which has taken place since the 1980s (Parker and Saal, 2003). Not only energy, but many other previously nationalised industries (especially in OECD countries), have now been moved wholly or partly out of direct state control. However, in many jurisdictions, energy assets have undergone particularly radical forms of privatisation, in which unitary industries have been dismantled into their constituent elements and restructured into a plurality of inter-competing bodies. This has been done with the aim of introducing stronger economic objectives and overcoming the inefficiencies associated with public ownership (Feigenbaum et al., 1998; Surrey, 1996). For instance, in the UK, initial privatisation of energy assets led to the break-up of a national entity into approximately 30 component parts, and the introduction of competitive behaviour between certain elements of the industry. One consequence of this de-integration and fragmentation of the industry has been to make the coordination of the development of the industry more difficult, and to erode the notions of central planning and public service that characterised the previously nationalised energy systems (Robinson, 2000). For example, transmission system operators are now often in the position of having to develop their networks in reaction to the initiatives of competing generation companies, making forward planning of their networks problematic. In turn, this presents difficulties for the application of SEA, which assumes the existence of clearly defined processes which can then be assessed from an environmental point of view. There would appear to be little place for a strategic planning instrument where strategic planning itself has become inherently weakened (Jay and Marshall, 2005). For example, there is far less likelihood of meeting the criteria of the SEA Directive described above in relation to the planning activities of specialised, private energy companies than for the production of national energy strategies. The institutional unity assumed for the effective application of the SEA Directive (and in fact for SEA in general Fischer et al., 2002) is far from guaranteed. Some of the more theoretical SEA exercises referred to above may therefore have little practical credibility, as they presume a degree of centralised control which may not exist, given the increasingly disaggregated and independent commercial nature of the sector. It is difficult to imagine, for instance, how a small-scale renewable energy company, seeking discrete opportunities to develop new schemes, would prepare even a medium-term plan with sufficient locational etc certainties for SEA to be meaningfully carried out alongside it. Having said this, certain parts of the energy industry retain official strategy-making functions, which explains to some extent the pattern of SEA activity described above. These functions are most apparent in the more strongly regulated arms of energy systems, especially transmission and distribution systems, which have survived restructuring as monopolies and have continued as unified operations run by regulated companies. As a consequence, they have tended to inherit public service functions, retaining statutory obligations and strategic scales of operation, and are therefore relatively well placed to adopt SEA. This is exemplified by the requirement on Elia to produce periodically a development plan, which comes under the terms of SEA legislation. Privatised utilities are still considered to be ‘authorities’ under the terms of the SEA Directive when carrying out a statutory duty, such as providing a supply of electricity. However, there is still some ambiguity about the application of the SEA Directive to grid systems in the EU. In the UK, for instance, the nearest equivalent to Elia’s development plan is a ‘Seven Year Statement’ produced by the main transmission system operator (National Grid, online); this provides a forecast of the performance capacity of the system for the coming seven years, including an indication of where there is the greatest potential for new connections and increased levels of transmission. Although this document is prepared by an authority (in the terms of the directive) and has a statutory basis, fulfilling the second and third screening criteria mentioned above, it does not clearly fulfil the first, that the plan/programme must set the framework for future development projects. This is partly because of the obligation that the grid operator is under to provide a connection to any customer (generator) that requests it, regardless of the contents of the Seven Year Statement; indeed, the document is unlikely to be referred to when proposals for infrastructure projects are passing through planning procedures (Jay, 2007). The most that could be said is that the Seven Year Statement provides guidance to potential customers regarding the cost-effectiveness etc of options open to them. There is clearly a difference of emphasis in the weight given to these Belgian and UK documents in planning decisions, which results in one coming under the terms of the SEA Directive, and the other not. The example of documents that give some form of strategic direction to grid systems therefore illustrates both the opportunity for and the difficulties involved in the introduction of a high-level form of environmental assessment within an increasingly fragmented and liberalised economic sector. On the one hand, there is, arguably, an urgent need to apply the principles of environmental assessment to the major shifts that are occurring in energy production, and there are organisational openings where this is becoming accepted and practised. On the other hand, fundamental changes in the sector have undermined the relatively unified structures and purposes that would have facilitated the adoption of SEA for energy production in a more coherent fashion. Even where there is broad regulatory force behind the application of SEA, the public service background and ethos of SEA do not equip it well for engaging with the intricate workings of the new energy markets. (It will be interesting to observe the extent to which SEA will be carried out on possible plans for a European supergrid, which will necessarily have a public service rationale, given its transnational character.) Nonetheless, there are a number of ways by which the wider take-up of SEA as part of the preparation of energy strategies might be encouraged. First, SEA needs to be located within and owned by key organisational units, such as at a company level, so that an SEA process relates directly to an organisational strategy (however that strategy might be defined), and not simply carried out (perhaps via academic exercises) for broad energy themes, such as a particular renewable energy technology. At the same time, SEA could be linked more closely to the wider objectives of a host organisation, so that it is not dependent on being adopted simply as a matter of regulatory compliance, but is taken on as a matter of good practice (Jay and Marshall, 2005). For example, SEA could be incorporated into existing environmental management practices within a company, with a view to improving overall environmental performance and contributing to corporate social responsibility. Second, SEA could be adapted to the structural changes that have taken place within energy industries, in line with the principle of shaping SEA to the strategic action that it is intended to assist (Partidário, 1999). For example, it has been suggested that an SEA process could be designed to match the customer-oriented nature of Seven Year Statements, referred to above, and be a mechanism for highlighting environmental issues that potential customers should take into account when considering their options for grid connection (Jay, 2007). More generally within the energy sector, SEA could shift to being a means of providing signals to guide environmentally acceptable development, especially where development is determined by business-led initiatives. Third, the positive benefits of SEA to an energy organisation’s operations could be advocated more strongly. For instance, one of its intended advantages is greater engagement by stakeholders and the wider public in the development of strategies that will have significant consequences for society as a whole (as illustrated in the final sentence in the above description of Elia’s approach to SEA). Unlike some of the more technically focused exercises that have been used to assess energy options, using multi-criteria analysis for instance, SEA is intended to be an inclusive and participative process, in which there is an opportunity for deliberation and consensus-building. This argument has been made particularly in relation to environmentally contentious forms of energy development (Bérubé and Cusson, 2002). Thus SEA can provide a forum for debate not just on the environmental assessment itself, but also on the wider strategies that are being examined. In this discussion, I have focused on the possible expansion and acceptance of SEA within component organisations that make up energy systems. Finally, however, a level of SEA is possible at a higher policy-making level, where government bodies set the broad framework for the development of energy infrastructure, including the consideration of energy mixes, broad criteria for the location and scale of development, likely future trends, etc. Scrutinising this level of strategic thinking via SEA is considered paramount by commentators, as policy sets the conditions for all downstream activities, as expressed in plans, programmes, etc. For this reason, the omission of policies from the scope of the EU’s SEA Directive is reckoned to be a serious deficiency (Fischer et al., 2002). (For example, the extent to which SEA will be carried out for national renewable energy action plans, prepared under the recent ‘Renewable Energy Directive’ (European Parliament and Council (EPC), 2009) remains to be seen, given that they remain at the level of broad policy rather than set the framework for EIA-type projects.) Some SEAs have been carried out for governmental energy frameworks, as exemplified by the initiatives regarding offshore resources. But for SEA to become properly embedded within the energy sector, priority must be given to the assessment of this level of strategy-making. The current upheaval of national energy policies in the light of climate change and energy security issues, with potentially far-reaching consequences for energy infrastructure and for environmental resources, makes this all the more urgent.