PAP37 - Spatializing the energy ambitions of a territory thanks to the .E.t.a.p.e. landscape tool

February 2020

Le Collectif Paysages de l’Après-Pétrole (PAP)

Anxious to ensure the energy transition and, more generally, the transition of our societies towards sustainable development, 40 planning professionals have come together in an association to promote the central role that landscape approaches can play in land-use planning policies.

In this article, proposed by Auréline Doreau, project engineer at the Landscape and Energy Chair of the Landscape School of Versailles, and Gaëlle des Déserts, project manager at the Centre d’Ecodéveloppement de Villarceaux, present, with the contribution of Marc Benoît, researcher at INRAE, the .E.t.a.p.e. landscape system, a tool for identifying the landscape supports best suited to accommodate the most suitable energy resource… Explanations!

To download : article-37-collectif-pap-mb-ad-gdd.pdf (730 KiB)

Faced with the urgent need to speed up transitions, scenarios have multiplied to commit territories to drastic reductions in consumption, greater efficiency and the production of renewable energies. The negaWatt scenario and Solagro’s Afterres2050 agronomic prospective are at the basis of the measures envisaged by the positive energy territories (Tepos), a network of often rural territories that are mobilising to reach and exceed the 100% renewable target and achieve the national ambition of carbon neutrality by 2050 1. How can an ambitious and necessary scenario be appropriated by giving it its reality on the scale of a territory, in the plurality of its contexts and actors? As the questions of living environment and landscape quality emerge in the Tepos network and as the links between the Collectif Pap and the energy companies develop, the idea was born to create a tool to concretize the spatial figure that the transition scenario could take by declining it in a precise way: from the current landscape, based on oil, which landscape of transition to choose?

Objectives and context of the creation of the tool

Aware that the national scenarios call for a work of specification to find their local translation, the negaWatt Institute and Solagro created in 2012 a device that will then become Destination Tepos. The objective for the participants (elected officials, technicians, citizens of a territory) is to define the energy mix that will enable them to make the transition in their territory, by adjusting different actions 2. Where the debate is often captured by the experts, this simulation exercise allows the actors to engage in choices. Convinced by the tool, the Clerk is responsible for developing it, disseminating it and animating the user community. The latter can use the tool upstream of a territorial transition strategy, when starting a PCAET, a Scot, an action plan, or during the course of the strategy, to check that we are going in the right direction, and to remobilize the actors.

The principle of the Destination Tepos system is to start from a diagnosis identifying the energy situation of the territory and its potential. This diagnosis evaluates current consumption and the energy efforts needed to make the transition to 2030 and 2050 and sets out the different types of actions to be implemented to control energy and develop the production of renewable energies.

From there, the participants will build their energy transition scenario in a bottom-up, participative and playful approach.

The animation of this approach consists of a negotiation between the actors. Putting into situation their usual knowledge of the territory, they position on a checkerboard different maps of « energy control » or « renewable energy production ». Each square of the checkerboard represents the same quantity of energy avoided or produced (for example 10 or 20 GWh), activated by specific actions when the cards are placed on the squares. To save energy, will we prefer to insulate 500 houses, or think about the sobriety and energy efficiency of a hospital? In the envisaged energy mix, are we going to choose five wind turbines, or five territorial methanisers, or equip 3,000 houses with photovoltaic panels on the roofs?

This system opens up the debate and provides a one-off aid to the decision, in particular to trigger the initial trigger. It makes people aware of the urgency and the need for action to be taken to make the energy transition in time and in a concrete manner. The system is enriched by feedback from a community of users: questions of landscape and spatialization frequently emerge in debates between participants. To embody the expected territorialisation, some tried to use a map or photos to complement the checkerboard. How can the territorial dimension be taken into account, once one has mobilized around the issue thanks to the Destination Tepos tool?

The Collectif Pap notes that landscape approaches facilitate transitions, and in priority that of energy. Pap therefore proposed a complementary module to the Destination Tepos tool to address the spatial dimension through landscape.

The Cler was seduced by this proposal and accompanied the Collective in the construction of the tool. It was designed by the Collective with the support of the Landscape and Energy Chair and the support of the CAUE de l’Ardèche for the first localisation tests.

The first step is to qualify and diagnose the landscape of the territory in question, and to identify its specific features, resources and challenges. The energy transition will give rise to a new landscape: by relying on the specificity of the places, it is a question of differentiating and adapting the equipment by imagining the energy transition solutions according to the support they can find in the geographical data. In this way, a guiding thread allows the choice of transition actions that are better identifiable, shareable and even desirable. The images, photos and sketches made available help the participants to plan interventions anchored in the reality of the territory. The large-format map is an immersive support that places the quality of the landscape at the heart of the exchanges.

The Landscape Step tool starts from the numerical elements identified by Destination Tepos and the bouquet of actions chosen by the participants during a classic Destination Tepos session. Transition scenarios thought out in a quantitative way on a national scale cannot take shape without taking into account the roughness and particularities of reality.

Etape paysage highlights the specificities of each territory and its landscapes: the tool proposes a method by which to take them into account and respect them. Each person will therefore have a game board and landscape unit sheets developed for him or her.

Decline a numerical scenario on a national scale into selected landscapes.

The negaWatt scenario determines a likely trajectory for the national evolution of energy consumption in the various sectors of activity, and the residual quantities of renewable energy to be produced by sector. It gives precise and detailed figures, illustrated by graphs and diagrams that are evocative for those who know how to read them. But numbers don’t speak to everyone. Conversely, by converting the figures into shared and locatable images, one can choose one type of action in preference to another based on one’s knowledge of the places and their specific characteristics. By defining their best location, citizens identify a scenario well adapted to their territory, the one that will constitute the living environment they prefer.

The Destination Tepos tool thus makes it possible to determine differentiated versions of the negaWatt scenario by elaborating territorial declinations that take into account the singularities of the territories and imagine the creation of as many new landscapes. We are thus moving from the national strategic vision of « 100% renewables by 2050 » to differentiated versions chosen for each territory. The territorial and landscape versions make it possible to avoid the standardised energy developments imposed everywhere, as was the case with the infrastructures of the oil era, with the same allotments, business parks and roundabouts throughout France. To do this, the Etape tool offers participants the opportunity to identify which landscape supports will be best suited to accommodate the energy resource they have chosen to develop, and to find the corresponding type of infrastructure, giving rise to new landscape forms.

Starting from landscape units, the Etape tool forgets administrative boundaries to focus instead on coherent geographical units where the distribution of human activities in their physical environment is taken into account. Thinking about complementarities between places in the same territory or solidarity with neighbouring territories is the strength of transition scenarios if they are politically driven.

The five moments of the Landscape stage system

Step 0 installs the device using the landscape tools and diagnostic spreadsheet of Destination Tepos. This is an opportunity to acculturate the non-landscape animator to the resources of the landscape. The atlas 3 and cartographic databases (IGN in particular) make it possible to locate the system and build its elements: IGN map background or aerial photo as a central platform for discussion, panels evoking the characteristics and objectives of landscape quality for each landscape unit, photographs of the territory. The INSEE characteristics and negaWatt objectives are displayed separately. An animation and illustration booklet presents the development of the system.

Steps 1 and 2 define the landscape units and resources. Participants learn to name their territory in terms of landscape units. For each of them, they select an emblematic photo and negotiate its framing on the IGN map (central plateau). Each landscape unit includes more or less numerous physical and human resources, more or less consensual: participants must identify them and agree on which ones are essential. At the end of this phase, the diagnosis of existing resources and landscape specificities per landscape unit is established by as many small « resource » maps placed on the central plateau. The landscape gardener may have identified other landmarks in the landscape and/or the atlases may contain a version that differs from what the local inhabitants describe around them: there is often a diversity of perception between the expert spheres and that of the inhabitants, as defined in the European Landscape Convention 4. When the tool was tested in the community of municipalities of the Haut Nivernais Val d’Yonne, water-related landscape resources emerged as central. It was culturally very present in the perception of the participants, where the expert would have seen only a few streams and canals that were poorly marked and not very suitable for supporting energy production.

The third stage will install in the landscape the actions of energy control (MDE) and energy production (ENR). Based on the resources identified in each landscape unit and with the help of a sheet relating these resources to the types of energy control or production actions that can be carried out, the participants negotiate the location of the different maps of the bouquet decided upon during Destination Tepos.

The objective is to facilitate certain MDE or ENR actions through the contribution of landscape resources. The era of abundant and cheap oil energy has brought about homogeneous forms of living, moving, energy production, land cultivation and food in all types of territories. Conversely, energy saving and the production of renewable energies draw on the intrinsic resources of territories and are not positioned in the same way everywhere. They will be relevant and efficient because they are defined according to local resources. In order to spatialize RE production actions, the link between resources and production is fairly easy: a forest will be able to produce wood energy. But what are the necessary areas of intensive forest for about forty 0.3 MW wood-fired heating plants?

How much area of multifunctional forest is needed for these same boilers? What surface area is needed to be equivalent to five 2.5 MW wind turbines? It is sometimes difficult to spatialize energy control actions that do not have a direct visual projection or may concern a diversity of human activities. In the course of the game, we observe that the participants prefer to locate the actions of MDE where human resources are concentrated, in cities, places of life grouped together and dense: the centres of urbanization constitute in fact as many deposits of negawatts. The tool seeks to inscribe this logic in the thinking of the participants: this resource, in the landscape, will make it possible to develop what?

At this stage, participants may question the energy mix previously chosen in Destination Tepos: from a quantitative point of view, it might seem relevant to develop such a number of wood-fired heating systems. When we consider the landscape resources identified by the Step tool, the choice may change: we realize, for example, that agricultural resources are as important as forest resources, and that it could be interesting to make the most of both by developing two types of energy.

We then adjust the actions to be taken, while respecting the equivalence of the orders of magnitude. This is a long step, and the maieutics is delicate: the positioning of dozens of actions may seem impossible. Depending on the degree of determination of the participants and the diversity of the actions to be implemented, the Etape tool will then be able to differentiate thresholds: a first moment will aim at an equivalence between consumption and production of the territory; during the second, the balance will become positive in production, as compensation for structurally loss-making urban territories. This gradual approach makes it easier to go up the market without discouraging the less convinced.

Steps 4 and 5 create a new energy landscape through photography, drawing and microfiction. The sensitive approach to the landscape is rendered by narrative and graphic proposals evoking what has become of each landscape unit. The participants imagine the horizon of 2050 by telling what a traveller will feel as he travels through this territory whose interrelationships of scales and activities will have been thought out at the level of the inhabitant’s view. Without feeling paralyzed by the technique or the graphic aspect, the inhabitants will have debated the choice of such and such a site, and the resulting feelings. To do this, technical and landscape sheets, drawings to be pasted or traced and reference images are available to facilitate representation.

This first prospective step materializes a future landscape through imagination, through drawing or narration of the choices of implantation of various energies, even if the device does not allow to draw in detail the shapes that will be adapted to the local landscape specificities.

Testing the game on the territories

The various test sessions of Etape Paysage brought together actors from the landscape, energy and territorial development sectors (CAUE, design offices, teachers, students, elected representatives, associations) with the aim of actively immersing them in the energy transition. In particular, they brought together actors of the transition who may have been familiar with a landscape approach but perceived it as a constraint. The Landscape stage module was a focus of attention for all the participants. Without all being aware of landscape or energy issues, they easily grasped the tools and played the game. The shared narrative stage is particularly structuring and mobilizing. The bet won: the actors of the territory proved capable of linking energy and landscape. All the participants grasped this complex crossroads, making it possible to desacralise and repoliticize both the technical aspect of energy and the sensitive aspect of the landscape.

For the inhabitants and elected representatives of a territory, the tests of Etape Paysage confirmed the interest and value of the landscape dimension to exchange and share common values concerning the territory, as well as to address the territorial dimension of the energy transition.

At this stage, the tool calls for a specific skill to create the game as well as to animate it. For the tool is difficult to imagine « turnkey », as some participants would imagine. At the very least, it is necessary to provide support from landscape professionals, or a CAUE-energy specialist pair (from local energy and climate agencies, for example) to create and run the tool.


Prospective schemes are increasingly used by collectives to anticipate their development possibilities 5. These tools allow them to take a step back and understand issues that are not always easy to access. They encourage the imagination of possibilities by shifting the focus of attention. Actors from various agricultural or energy disciplines use these experiments: Secoloz, a role-playing game developed by INRA for the concerted management of landscapes on Mont-Lozère, the spatial and prospective system developed by the students of a regional educational workshop at the ENSP in Creuse (2008), 1000 GigaWatts proposed by RTE, and of course Destination Tepos.

Based on the principles reflected by Elinor Ostrom 6, communities of practitioners contribute to these developments by using « objects of intermediation », as the ComMod 7 research community does in France. The devices used serve an ethical position of accompaniment, which enables the empowerment of actors to act 8.

Resulting from these devices developed through a process of exchange between stakeholders and researchers, Etape paysage aims to provide inhabitants and decision-makers with a set of resources to exchange their points of view and share their knowledge with a view to developing a territorial project. In line with the Destination Tepos system, whose spatial implementation it is continuing, it highlights the values of energy sobriety and quality, as well as the coherence and harmony of the territories’ landscapes. By linking landscapes and energies with the diversity of our skills, the earth will be able to gain in quality.

1 A negawatt qualifies any energy saved, through actions of energy sobriety (behavioural change) or energy efficiency (technology change). The Tepos network is animated by the Cler - network for energy transition.

2 Insulate houses, save on public lighting, install biogas plants instead of wind turbines (or the opposite), etc.

3 Landscape atlases describe the landscape singularities of a territory by identifying its constituent entities, characterizing its structures and qualifying its representations. These atlases evoke current dynamics and define landscape quality objectives per unit. They cover the entire French territory.

4 Landscape = "a part of territory as perceived by the people, whose character results from the action of natural and/or human factors and their interrelationship".

5 Etienne, M. (coordinator), 2010: La modélisation d’accompagnement : une démarche participative en appui au développement durable, Editions Quae.

6 Ostrom, E.; Janssen, M.A.; Anderies, J.M.; 2007, Going beyond panaceas. PNAS n°104, p. 15176-15178. Ostrom E., 2009. « A general framework for analyzing sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems ». Science n°325, p. 419-22.

7 The « Companion Modelling » collective brings together researchers in the agronomic field who rely on companion modelling tools.

8 Paul M., 2009: « L’accompagnement dans le champ professionnel ». Savoirs 2009/2 No. 20, p. 11-63.