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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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Troms County, Norway

Troms County is a predominantly rural region, but with a network of urban centres.1 It lies between 68 and 70o north, approximately 350km above the Arctic Circle. It is slightly smaller than Belgium (25 848 km2) and has a total population of 157 500 – population density is very low, at six inhabitants per square kilometre (Table 13.1). The county borders both Sweden and Finland, and has a 1 800 km-long coastline. Some of Norway’s largest islands are found in Troms County, and the historical importance of fisheries and agriculture has contributed to a dispersed settlement pattern.

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