Renewable Energy Transition and the Local Economic Development of Lagging-behind Regions
Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly important in the energy mix, making up to 35% of the electricity production in the EU in 2019, with wind power accounting for 35% of the total electricity generated from renewable sources. There is a need to better understand how the rapidly growing renewable energy sector could promote local economic development in peripheral and lagging-behind regions, where abundant natural resources useful for the generation of green renewable energy are located. This research project will investigate how investment in renewable energy generation could offer opportunities for the redevelopment of local economies in lagging-behind regions. This could allow many peripheral regions, once dependent on mature agriculture and manufacturing industries, to regenerate their local economies by sustainably transitioning towards new higher added-value green industries. By mapping the location of offshore wind farms and link these to onshore local communities through the location of ports and other servicing infrastructures, we will develop an econometric analysis to evaluate the impact of offshore wind farms on the economic development of local onshore coastal communities in the UK. This will be the first study providing empirically robust analysis at a granular level on this topic, advancing existing knowledge by following two paths. First, it will consider the current impact of this transition on the economic development of places, analysing employment and productivity growth in local industries directly affected, as well as the magnitude of potential externalities along the supply-chain. Secondly, it will investigate the role of renewable energy for the dynamic industrial path development of lagging-behind regions, considering how it could foster regional branching and transition to new but related industries, pooling skills and expertise from other declining manufacturing industries, and creating new green jobs by retraining and upskilling workers. This is particularly relevant for the UK, where offshore wind is becoming the main source of green energy, and could positively contribute to rebalancing the economy, one of the most spatially unequal in the OECD, in line with the UK Government flagship policy on levelling-up.
“I am honoured of the support received from the Regional Studies Association Early-Career grant. The grant will support the development of this promising research project, investigating how investment in renewable energy generation could offer opportunities for the redevelopment of local economies in lagging-behind regions. I hope that, thanks to the RSA support, I will be able to provide important insights to understand how the rapidly growing renewable energy sector could promote local economic development in peripheral and lagging-behind regions. The Early Career grant will help me bridging together economics and GIS methodologies to provide empirically robust analysis at a granular level. This will give me the opportunity to consolidate my knowledge and expertise in these fields, and to partner with the ORE Catapult to inform stakeholders about the complementarities between the Net-Zero and the Levelling-Up policies.”