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. 



Middle Norrland, Sweden

Middle Norrland is a vast, predominantly rural region in the centre of Sweden. The region comprises two counties – Västernorrland and Jämtlands – which are administratively independent. Middle Norrland lies between the Baltic Sea and the Norwegian border and covers an area of 71 028 km2; this is bigger than Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg put together. However, this vast territory, which represents 17.3% of Sweden’s land area, is home to only 4% of its population (Table 15.1). The population is concentrated in the region’s main cities – Sundsvall (50 000 people) and Östersund (35 000) – while the rest of the territory is sparsely populated and covered by large boreal forests.


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