Linking Renewable Energy to Rural Development

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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. 



Prince Edward Island, Canada

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is both the smallest and the most rural province in Canada. The province covers approximately 5 684 km2 and is home to about 142 000 people; just over 0.4% of all Canadians (Table 6.1). The average population density is relatively high – 25 in/km2 – even with roughly 55% of the population living in rural areas. There are only two cities in the province: the capital, Charlottetown, with a population of just under 35 000 people, and Summerside, with a population of about 15 000. The rest of the population resides in small towns and in the open countryside. Because the cities and towns are small, there is no significant urban-rural dichotomy. While farms dominate the landscape – about 45% of the territory – consolidation has reduced farm numbers to under 1 700, supporting about 5 000 individuals.


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