Renewable Energy Sources (RES) are part of the solution to tackle the global problems of climate change and carbon emissions. Programs and policies at different levels are continuing to promote new RES farms, posing a relevant challenge to regional planners and administrators: how to manage landscape transformation and territorial fragmentation to find a really effective sustainable arrangement for these kinds of technologies? Most effects induced by RES (land-use change, land take, diminishing aesthetic values, loss of habitat quality), without a doubt, depend on the location and the spatial pattern of the plants, the relative distance between them, the extension of secondary infrastructures and their technical characteristics. This work takes part in the debate, originating from the need to establish a monitoring system for this kind of new territorial transformation and discusses the implementation of a sprinkling fragmentation index (SPX) in order to assess the current regional settlement structure of RES farms. Our case study concerns the Basilicata region (in Southern Italy), a very low-density area which over the last decade has undergone a relevant increase in the installation of RES technologies, not supported by an effective planning framework. The evolution of the regional energy system has been strongly influenced both by incentive policies and by (weak) urban and territorial planning policies. This approach could be a valuable contribution both in identifying a fragmentation threshold beyond which the expected negative impacts outweigh the benefits, and in providing a useful procedure for the management of future installations.
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