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OECD Renewable Energy

Nordic participation in an OECD project: The Production of Renewable Energy as a Regional Development Policy in Rural Areas.

Promoting the production of renewable energy is an issue that tops the agenda of many national, regional, and local governments, due to three main reasons. First: an increasing social awareness political support for policies that have the potential to mitigate climate change. Second: the price of fossil fuels is extremely volatile and rising in the long term, while the price for renewable energy is stably going downward. Thus, using clean energy is also a way to guarantee energy security in a carbon-constrained economy. Third: the green economy is moving its first steps and countries and regions aim at developing a competitive advantage in a sector that is likely to be very important in the next future. The production of renewable energy is a development opportunity for rural regions. Through the production of green energy rural regions have the possibility to use their endowment of renewable energy resources to create stable and valuable jobs in emerging industries, boost investment, and improve their human and social capital. Some rural regions in the OECD have already developed a local integrated system to produce energy, heating, and cooling from renewable sources. The Gaspe region in Québec (Canada), the Totara Valley in New Zealand, North Karelia in Finland, and the rural areas of Colorado and Nebraska in the United States are only few examples. Rural regions, depending on location, climatic conditions and terrain, could accommodate hydropower, wind farms, concentrating solar power systems and bioenergy projects. Those regions near the coast or located on islands may be able to benefit from off-shore wind and also in future on ocean technologies currently under development.

The OECD project will focus on three main aspects:

  • The first part will introduce the technical aspects related to renewable energy sources, and clarifies that this is a rural issue. This part of the analysis will be conducted in collaboration with the International Energy Agency, which is part of the OECD. For instance, this section will provide technical information about the type of renewable energy resources and the current approaches to assess energy demand projections at the regional level, and estimate the resulting emissions from energy use.
  • The second part will assess the production of renewable energy as a regional development policy in rural areas. The section will discuss the possibility of the "new energy economy" to impact local labour markets, boost investment, create clusters of firms, and empower regional communities.
  • The last part of the report will focus on case studies. It will aim at distilling lessons learned from the most effective policy practices and the possibility of scale up to more comprehensive, integrated approaches to rural development. This section will be more normative in nature and will take position on the pros and cons of different experiences.