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Linking Renewable Energy to Rural Development

image of Linking Renewable Energy to Rural Development

In many OECD countries, governments have invested large amounts of public money to support renewable energy (RE) development and are requiring significant quantities of it to be sold by energy providers. But what are the economic impacts of these policies on the rural regions where deployment takes place? How can RE bring the greatest benefit to host regions? These are some of the questions explored by this study. Drawing on case studies in 16 regions within 10 countries, the research finds that while RE indeed represents an opportunity for stimulating economic growth in rural communities, its development benefits are not automatic. Realising them requires a complex and flexible policy framework and a long-term strategy, as well as a realistic appreciation of the potential gains from RE deployment.  Making a positive connection between RE development and local economic growth will require more coherent strategies, the right set of local conditions, and a place-based approach to deployment. 

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Iowa, United States

Iowa is a US state of just over 3 million people, covering 146 000 km2 of mostly rolling hills. Its main urban centres are medium-sized cities such as the state capital Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Sioux City, with other smaller cities scattered throughout the state. As with much of the Midwest, many of Iowa’s non-metropolitan counties have experienced outmigration, but the state’s population is still significantly more rural than the United States as a whole; approximately 43.5% of Iowans are rural dwellers compared to only 16.5% in the US (Table 17.1).

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