Edited by Thomas B. Fischer and Ainhoa González
Chapter 12: Strategic environmental assessment in the energy sector
The energy sector is of central importance for society and national economies and is associated with significant environmental issues. Energy plans, programs, and sometimes policies are subject to strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in many parts of the world. In Europe, for example, energy plans are explicitly listed in the SEA Directive while in low and middle-income countries energy is, next to transport, the most important sector in which SEAs are prepared. This chapter provides an overview of the current state of research on and practice of SEA in the energy sector. A key message is that SEAs for energy plans, programs and policies have similar shortcomings to SEAs in other sectors. In particular, the assessment of cumulative effects and the consideration of alternatives are currently done poorly. Considering the challenges of the transformation of energy systems to low-carbon or carbon-free states, we suggest that future research should focus on the benefits provided by SEAs. As the energy transition will require the consideration of environmental and social implications in decision-making, practice should recognize the key role SEA can play.
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