The Renewable Energy Landscape–A Review

By Paul Gipe

“Long overdue, this guide on how to place renewable energy in the landscape to maximize public acceptance is critical to the energy transition that is so desperately needed.”

That’s my blurb on the cover of The Renewable Energy Landscape: Preserving scenic values in our sustainable future by Martin Pasqualetti, Dean Apostol, James Palmer, Richard Smardon, and Robert Sullivan. And it’s true.

Martin Pasqualetti has been following the integration of renewable energy into the landscape since the 1980s when he first wrote about the wind industry in California’s San Gorgonio Pass. Since then he has become one of the world’s foremost authority on the topic, amassing a career full of books and journal articles on the sometimes controversial subject.

Pasqualletti and I are among the coauthors of Wind Power in View: Energy Landscapes in a Crowded World (2002), an early attempt to explore wind turbines, aesthetics, and public acceptance. And we weren’t the first. Europeans, especially the Dutch, Danes, Germans, and Brits had published several noteworthy reports on aesthetic design of wind power plants. (See below.)

Renewable Energy Landscape takes this to the next level with a sterling cast of North American academics and consultants, including Pasqualetti. The book expands the discussion beyond just wind turbines to take in solar and geothermal power plants.

California environmentalists will be keen to see the sections on concentrating solar power plants in the Mojave Desert. Controversially, the plants are highly visible in a region where vast vistas are the norm and the works of man are not always apparent.

Chapter 5 on social acceptance of renewable energy landscapes is the best entry for those unfamiliar with the difficulty of siting wind and solar projects anywhere, whether in the deserts of North America or the densely populated countryside of Europe.

Renewable Energy Landscape is a must for the professional environmentalist, renewable energy advocates, or those responsible for evaluating the visual impact of renewable energy projects whether in government or private industry.

Note: This is another book in a series that’s been sent my way to review or otherwise comment on. I no longer have the time or the inclination to read every book that’s sent over my figurative transom. These are all by highly valued colleagues or friends, the topics important, or the point of view well worth getting out to a broader audience. I am remiss in not getting to them in a timely manner. In lieu of just letting them gather dust, I am posting their bibliographic details and a comment or two.

Apostol, Dean. Palmer, James. Pasqualetti, Martin. Smardon, Richard. Sullivan, Robert. The Renewable Energy Landscape: Preserving scenic values in our sustainable future. Abingdon, England: Routledge, 2017. ISBN: 9781138808980. $125 USD, cloth. ISBN: 9781315618463. $113 USD, Epub. 1 x 7.8 x 10 inches. 286 pages. Country of origin: Not declared.

See also

  • Wind in Sicht: Landscape in Transition by Ulrich Mertens, A Review
  • Wind Turbines & the Landscape: Architecture & Aesthetics by Frode Birk Nielsen
  • The Landscape Impact and Visual Design of Windfarms by Caroline Stanton
  • The Nature of Wind Power A Review by Paul Gipe
  • Windy Protest: Conflict Surrounding the Future Potential of Wind Power (Windiger Protest Konflikte um das Zukunftspotential der Windkraft)
  • L’Energie du Vent A Review
  • Le bruit de l’éolien, rumeurs, cancans, mensonges et petites histoires—A Review


1. The Changing Landscapes of Renewable Energy (Dean Apostol, Richard Smardon, Robert Sullivan, James Palmer and Martin Pasqualetti)

Part I

2. Conserving Scenery During an Energy Transition (Martin Pasqualetti and Richard Smardon)

3. Managing New Energy Landscapes in the USA, Canada, and Australia (Richard Smardon, Ian Bishop and Robert Ribe)

4. Adjusting to Renewable Energy in a Crowded Europe (Simon Bell)

5. Social Acceptance of Renewable Energy Landscapes (Richard Smardon and Martin J. Pasqualetti),

Part II

6. The Visual Signatures of Renewable Energy Projects (Robert Sullivan)

7. Improving the Visual Fit of RE Projects (Dean Apostol, John McCarty, and Robert Sullivan)

8. Measuring Scenic Impacts of Renewable Energy Projects (Louise Kling, James Palmer, and Richard Smardon)

9. Visualizing Proposed Renewable Energy Projects (Robert Sullivan)

10. Engaging Communities in Creating New Energy Landscapes (Richard Smardon and James Palmer)

11. Policy Recommendations for the New Energy Landscape (Dean Apostol, Richard Smardon, James Palmer, Martin Pasqualetti and Robert Sullivan)

Editors and Contributors