Sustainable resource use – Energy and Water

Energy and water are the basic elements of human activity and the supply and use those elements are central for a sustainable society. Places with strong fluctuations in visitor populations over different periods have particular requirements for both elements. Water and energy supply have many similarities, especially when it comes to methods to reduce their consumption. On islands, where resources are limited by geography, the handling of the variations in supply and demand is a greater challenge. The project’s focus on islands can be explained by noting that many of the challenges with changing visitor streams are more apparent on islands. Islands also provide a set of clearly geographically defined problems and unique test possibilities. To this end, Gotland is used as a case study area but exchanges with other islands which also deal with questions regarding energy and water supply, such as Samsö and Aruba, are also an objective of the project. Gotland is also a member of two island networks which can be of interest for the project, the B7 Baltic Islands Network and the European Islands Network on Energy and Environment (Islenet).

The focus of this project is on increasing the knowledge of how both the supply and use of energy and water resources can be adapted sustainably to strong variations in visitor streams. Solutions for both fluctuations in energy production and energy use as well as how the use of water and energy can be done more effectively to reduce consumption will be considered.

The project highlights how the supply and use of energy and water resources can occur sustainably coupled to a visitor perspective. Energy and water studies are connected around activities that target savings and effectiveness in resource usage from a social science perspective.

Projects with an Energy focus

With a focus on a sustainable energy system we intend to study both energy production and energy saving actions.

To contribute to sustainable energy production the project intends to study wind resource variations and how these correspond to current electricity usage. From this we will develop different scenarios which will include increased use of electricity in transportation as well as connecting cruise ships and regular ferries to the electrical grid at the dock to avoid some diesel usage in the harbor. As an additional step we intend to study the possibility of using Gotland as a test site for a number of new technologies connected to sustainable energy systems applied on islands.

Studies on energy savings with a focus on sustainable energy use are also planned. In these studies the possibilities for energy savings which are built into the system infrastructure as well as those related to the visitor activities on the island are to be considered. The focus will be on social science studies of how known energy saving solutions which relate to visitor activities can be promoted and can become a natural choice for both operators and visitors.

Researchers in charge: Stefan Ivanell, Sanna Mels och Giuliano Di Baldassarre.

Projects with a Water focus

The question of water will also be addressed in this project. Water supply on Gotland has been and is a large challenge as water use prohibitions and drying reservoirs have become a part of everyday life. It is clear that the water problem on the island needs a sustainable solution so that both the current and an eventual increase in visitor activities can be handled.

A socio-hydrologic study is planned with a focus on examining sustainable methods to handle the fresh water resources on Gotland. The analysis in the planned study will focus on the human uses of the fresh water system – such as for drinking water and for use in agriculture – and it will also address the impacts hydrological changes in turn have on the human system, such as for example water shortages. This type of study is expected to clarify the interactions between social and hydrological systems and create a better understanding of the dynamics in play between supply and demand for water in the context of quickly changing conditions where uneven visitor streams are a strongly contributing factor.

The socio-hydrological viewpoint makes it possible to consider the connection between water and energy. Energy is needed, for example, to exploit the ground water resources on Gotland. Even desalination, which is among the suggested solutions for the water shortage, requires significant amounts of energy.

Researchers in charge: Stefan Ivanell, Sanna Mels och Giuliano Di Baldassarre.