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. 


Tennessee, United States

Tennessee is a predominantly rural region despite having a higher population density than the national average (Table 20.1). Despite its cities, such as Memphis, Nashville (its capital), Knoxville, and Chattanooga, Tennessee is still significantly more rural than the US average, with 26.6% of its population residing in rural areas compared to only 16.5% of the US as a whole. Under the OECD classification (OECD, 2006), it is a predominantly rural region. The eastern portion of Tennessee is mountainous with an average elevation of over 1 524m and rugged terrain. Knoxville and Chattanooga lie within a valley called the Great Valley (within the Tennessee Valley). The central and western portion of the state is considerably less rugged, with significant plains and the Mississippi River Valley on the western border.


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