Using GIS Technologies for designing agro-energy districts

Ilaria Zambon


The current energy guidelines requested by the European Community encourage the use of renewable resources as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels. By supporting sustainable development, energy needs can be met through the transformation of agro-forestry biomass into biofuels. Therefore, the requirement to establish sustainable production and consumption chains at local level emerges. Accurate planning becomes crucial to ensure the establishment of agro-energy districts. Such process requires a careful analysis of potential energy resources that can be obtained in each territorial area. It should be remembered that the primary sector in Europe (and more specifically in Italy) has suffered a severe decline in recent decades, e.g. loss of employment and increase of abandoned rural areas. By re-establishing rural landscape and promoting multifunctional agriculture, agro-energy districts arise as competitive and sustainable realities for agricultural contexts.The purpose of the present work is to highlight how GIS technologies are useful tools for identifying which rural areas, based on for example typical crops or contextual particularities, may become efficient agro-energy districts. Furthermore, by using GIS technologies the results highlighted a quantitative evaluation of biomass based on the agro-energy supply and demand of potential districts. Guaranteeing the correct knowledge and use of these tools, it is essential that economic, political and local actors are regarded as essential interacting components in innovative and efficient systems. In this sense, the present work also reflects on the educational impact of using GIS technologies as political decision-makers and planners must be able of enhancing local contexts with these tools with the aim of offering suitable opportunities and strategies for the sustainable development of agro-energy districts.


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