This study provides a portrait of the state of impact assessment (IA) research for four types of low carbon power production (wind, solar, small-scale hydro and small modular nuclear reactors). The emphasis is on IA research that has relevance to the Canadian policy setting. The method involved a systematized scan of the academic literature (peer reviewed publications, conference proceedings and book chapters) and reports and studies produced by government and other organizations. The literature was categorized according to a framework adapted from transition theory. The results indicate that the literature addressing wind power is comprehensive, but there is a relative scarcity of research (in both quantity and breadth) on the impacts of solar, small-scale hydro, and small modular reactors (SMRs). In each of these three energy areas there is a lack of available work addressing the social, political and cultural impacts accompanied by more specialized gaps in the biophysical research. Drawing on a transition theory typology, the majority of the literature can be characterized as reflexive, with less than 20% of research exploring primarily operational, tactical, or strategic themes. But there are many sources where the research contains overlapping categories. The research for SMR impacts is distinct from the other three alternative power sources; this literature is largely strategic. Priorities for further analysis in the short-term include applying lessons from the international literature to the Canadian context and developing a better understanding of the specific impacts of alternative energy sources on Indigenous communities. In the longer term, there is a need for more research in the field, with a particular emphasis on understanding the operational and strategic qualities of low carbon power production.
An analysis of the state of impact assessment research for low carbon power production: Building a better understanding of information and knowledge gaps
Title: An analysis of the state of impact assessment research for low carbon power production: Building a better understanding of information and knowledge gaps
April 01, 2019
Journal: Energy Research and Social Science
Hanna, K.; McGuigan, E.; Noble, B.; Parkins, J. (2019). An analysis of the state of impact assessment research for low carbon power production: Building a better understanding of information and knowledge gaps. Energy Research and Social Science, 50, 116-128.