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. 



Scotland, United Kingdom

Scotland has a clear rural character. Its international image is more strongly related to rural landscapes and culture than to its cities. Rural Scotland represents 75% of the entire territory. The average population density of 66 inhabitants per square kilometre (inh/km2) is far below the 250 inh/km2 for the United Kingdom (UK) as a whole (Table 16.1). However, population density also varies widely within Scotland, reflecting its rich and varied landscape. Scotland’s topography can be divided into three regions – the sparsely populated highlands and islands in the north, which flow into the central lowlands where population is mainly concentrated, and finally to the rural Southern Uplands (OECD Regional Database).


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