Revitalisation of local economy by development of renewable energy: good practices and case studies

Renewable energy can contribute to the creation or revitalisation of local economies, by creating new jobs and services. But what is the exact nature of these benefits, how can they be realised, and what policies could support this? On behalf of the IEA RETD TCP, the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) explored good practices, by addressing the following topics:

  1. How to increase and/or maintain employment in the local economy induced by the development of renewable energy projects?
  2. What type of employment and new business can it create? What are the conditions to make it happen?
  3. How to divide policy roles between national and local governments to achieve successful revitalisation of the local economy?

Six in-depth case studies were carried out, namely:

  • Nord-Norge (Norway) –a cluster of renewable energy sources
  • Saint Dizier and Le Mené (France) –a biomass heater with district heating network and a renewable energy cluster, respectively
  • Santa-Cruz (USA) –solar PV installations
  • Bay of Fundy (Canada) –in-stream tidal turbines including research and pre-commercial activities
  • Furness Peninsula (the UK) –off-shore wind farms
  • Hamburg (Germany) –renewable energy cluster

REvLOCAL was launched at a workshop on the revitalisation of local economy by development of renewable energy, which was held on 1 September 2016 in Fukushima in Japan.  This region is in dire need of a revitalisation of the local economies, after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and the damage caused by the resulting tsunami and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. For more information visit the event page on the website.

The detailed case studies as well as the summary findings and the Japanese translation of the Executive Summary can be downloaded on this page.

Main recommendations

Policymakers should seek to stimulate the following local and regional RES deployment strategies:

  • Clear commitment of local political decision-makers towards ensuring the success of renewables projects is critical, helping to ensure a positive spirit of cooperation and facilitation
  • A clear local strategy for renewables depends on identifying potential economic advantages, and an urgent need for action. Where local areas face disadvantages such as old, declining industries, or isolation, renewable energy investment can therefore gain traction and support more quickly. Long-term national strategies for energy decarbonisation should identify not just geographical opportunities for renewables installation, but also the potential synergies with the economic needs of such disadvantaged areas
  • Cooperation among a wide range of key local stakeholders is important in helping to overcome bureaucratic delays and find creative solutions (and can be easier to generate where there is a sense of urgency about local economic conditions)
  • Approaches based on local ownership and control of RES projects may facilitate local acceptance and maximise local benefits
  • Regions and local areas need to identify and capitalise on their strengths, in terms both of the renewable resources available and the local economic context
  • Care needs to be taken to secure local support both for the overall strategy and for individual projects, on the basis of transparent and realistic assessments of impacts and benefits
  • A one-window approach to applications is a useful way of facilitating early deployment of projects. But in practice the degree of commitment shown by local political leaders seems to be the most important factor in ensuring that relevant local bureaucracies work together to make things happen
  • The strengths of the local skills pool need to be identified, together with the investments necessary to develop new skills relevant to renewables deployment
  • A supportive national or state-level policy framework, based on continuity and predictability, is important; while local commitment might be effective in the absence of supportive national policies, the two operating together create an enhanced, synergetic impact.

Further issues to be considered include the following:

  • Self-sufficiency and lower fuels bills can be an important driver of local attitudes and enthusiasm; but political commitments on these issues need to be managed carefully if they are not to hamper further development of renewables for export
  • The local economic benefits of renewable investment are not a ´zero-sum game´. Creating centres of expertise, and gaining early deployment experience, make the economics of renewables investment more attractive generally
  • People learn by seeing and doing, and demonstration by example can have a big impact. More attention should be paid to ensuring that the wider benefits of first-mover experience are shared promptly.



Remote Prosumers – Preparing for deployment

Roof-top solar PV prosumers in remote areas and islands (REMOTE PROSUMERS)

Many remote areas and islands (RAI) are deploying renewable energy (RE), some with ambitious plans to meet 100% of their electricity or even final energy needs with renewables. For most of them, roof-top PV systems offer clear advantages but most of their deployment potential still remains largely untapped. The setup of consistent prosumer policies can provide a means to achieve the islands’ objectives faster and with lower costs to society.

This report provides guidance to policy makers on the drivers, opportunities, challenges and implementation strategies of PV prosumer policies that can be considered within a comprehensive renewable energy strategy for RAI. It is based on the frameworks and methodologies developed on the IEA-RETD publications RE-PROSUMERS (2014) and REMOTE (2012).

The preliminary results were presented at the IRENA Island conference in Martinique in July 2015, see presentation slides.


Residential Prosumers – Drivers and Policy Options

The rise of the solar photovoltaic “prosumers” has the potential to transform the centralized electric utility model that has served the world for over 100 years into a more decentralized and interactive system. In some countries it is now more cost-effective for households to produce their own power from PV than to purchase electricity from the grid. However, a prosumer “revolution” under which decentralized adoption of PV occurs on its own, in the absence of supportive policies or regulatory conditions has not yet arrived. Self-consumption of solar PV is a growing trend globally, but its expansion remains within policy makers’ ability to control… and develop.

This new IEA-RETD report provides a comprehensive overview of prosumer related aspects: It analyses the influence of economical, behavioural and technological drivers as well as national conditions for prosumer growth. It provides policy makers with detailed analysis on the potential benefits as well as costs and risks in order to articulate the justification for prosumer-related policies. Finally it discusses the different forms that PV prosumer policy strategies can take based on the evaluation of drivers and national objectives.


Communication Best-Practices for Renewable Energies – Scoping Study

An identified barrier to the widespread use of renewable energy technologies (RET) is the (mis-) perception in the public, at a political level and within the industry sector about the benefits, opportunities and capabilities of RET. One reason is that the communication of the RE sector may not be convincing enough. In November 2011 IEA-RETD organised a workshop in Berlin that discussed the topics of ‘sending clear messages’, and ‘getting the RE cost perception right’. One of the conclusions was that renewables need a better positioning, which could be achieved through improved communication (see the workshop conclusions here).

Therefore IEA-RETD commissioned a scoping study with the objective to provide ideas, techniques and case studies on how the benefits of renewable energies can be better communicated to and by policy makers, decision makers and other stakeholders. The study concluded that more targeted, effective renewable energy communications campaigns can be achieved through the use of more consistent, holistic and rigorous approaches to pre- and post-campaign development.
It also invites stakeholders to contribute to a “communications knowledge platform for RE” which would pool information, experiences and knowledge for improved RE communications (if you are interested, please contact ).

The project has been carried out by a consortium consisting of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Green Budget Germany / Forum Ökologisch-Soziale Marktwirtschaft (FÖS), and the global renewable energy communications agency Collings & Monney.

Workshop, 29 November 2012 in Brussels

IEA-RETD and its partners from IISD, FÖS and Collings Monney organised on 29 November a workshop in Brussels that brought together experts in communication and renewable energy from governmental and non-governmental organizations. The workshop focused on the challenges for developing successful communication strategies for the renewable energy sector through a series of presentations and interactive sessions.

Please find the agenda and presentations here.

Workshop, 12 February 2013 in Brussels

In the 2nd workshop the preliminary results of the study as well as additional case studies were presented and discussed. Please find the agenda and presentations here.

Workshop, 7-9 October 2013 in Abu Dhabi

On 7-9 October 2013 IEA-RETD joined a workshop hosted by IRENA on “Social Acceptance of Renewable Energy” in Abu Dhabi and presented the results of the RE-COMMUNICATE project. The presentation can be found here and more information here.


Step-by-step guidelines for calculating employment effects of renewable energy investments


The importance of renewable energy in energy systems is increasing at an impressive rate, and the expectation is that this tendency will continue in the longer term. As a consequence, there is a strong need for reliable insight into the employment benefits from renewable energy. The current knowledge on the economic impacts of large-scale deployment of renewable energy technologies is more or less derived on an ad hoc basis and consists of a variety of different methodologies with different objectives. This is why the International Energy Agency’s Implementing Agreement on Renewable Energy Technology Deployment (IEA-RETD) aims to facilitate a more structural approach, contributing to reliable and consistent insights into employment effects from deployment of renewable energy technologies. Against this background, the EMPLOY project, to which IRENA contributed, was initiated to develop a set of methodological guidelines for estimating the employment impacts of renewable energy use in a coherent, uniform and systematic way.


The objectives of the EMPLOY-EID project were to:

  • Provide guidelines based on a thorough review of best practices, which are able to contribute to a consistent, reliable framework in which to measure employment effects from renewable energy deployment and which can be replicated from one country to another;
  • Identify data sources and/or inputs required in the application of such guidelines;
  • Provide better understanding of key parameters and mechanisms that determine contribution of renewable energy employment;
  • Assess availability of sources for employment benefit data for all RETD member countries as well as other relevant countries;
  • Provide concrete gross employment benefit data to countries where data is available through application of the guidelines and best practices;
  • Document the economic effects of renewable energy deployment through a publishable brochure of the main project results, presentations, the guidelines and background report.

The EMPLOY project aimed to help achieve the IEA-RETD’s objective to “empower policy makers and energy market actors through the provision of information, tools and resources” by underlining the economic and industrial impacts of renewable energy technology deployment and providing reliable methodological approaches for employment – similar to those available for the incumbent energy technologies.


EMPLOY guidelines: the EMPLOY project resulted in a comprehensive set of methodological guidelines for estimating the employment impacts of renewable energy deployment in a coherent, uniform and systematic way. Guidelines were prepared for four different methodological approaches. In the introduction section of the guidelines policy makers are guided in their choice for the most suited approach, depending on the policy questions to be answered, the data availability and budget.

Annex with country calculations: the guidelines were tested for the IEA-RETD member state countries and Tunisia. The results of these calculations are included in the annex to the guidelines.

Report with overview of approaches to assess employment effects: the EMPLOY guidelines are based on a broad review of the approaches to assess employment impacts of renewable energy deployment. The report on employment impact assessment studies presents an overview of the existing gross and net approaches being used to analyse the employment impacts of renewable energy. The report provides insight into the basics of the used methods, the methodological issues, advantages and disadvantages of various methods, data requirements and procedures to collect the data.


Future users of the EMPLOY guidelines are kindly requested to share their experiences with us. A feedback form can be downloaded from this website, which can be returned to Otherwise the Operating Agent can also be contacted for sharing feedback through


The EMPLOY guidelines, the annex with country calculations and a feedback form for future users of the EMPLOY guidelines, the Task 1 report with an overview of assessment approaches, a PowerPoint presentation and a policy brief can be downloaded.


Renewable Energies for Remote Areas and Islands

Remote areas around the world are at the forefront of the transition towards a more sustainable energy future. IEA-RETD has commissioned a study with the overall objective to provide policy perspectives for making remote areas and islands largely independent from fossil fuel imports or costly transmission infrastructures. The project gives national, regional and local policy makers and initiatives a better grasp of the technical, economic and energy issues facing remote areas, and provides a menu of policy options and case studies available to accelerate renewable energy development in these regions. The intention is to inspire and to trigger action to deploy renewables and thus contribute to more sustainable energy systems in remote areas.

IEA-RETD was represented at the IRENA “Renewables and Islands Global Summit” on Malta on September 6, 2012. More information can be found here.



Financing Renewable Energy – Key challenges for large-scale deployment


The FINANCE-RE project was launched to address the key finance challenges related to the large-scale deployment of renewable energy. The report provides insight into the current practice and trends in financing renewable energy and presents the key challenges that need to be faced when following a large-scale RE deployment scenario. It addresses the current, the mid-term (2020) and longer-term (2050) financing needs. It also outlines what is needed to attract this capital and to improve the investment climate. Policies and key policy design aspects which can facilitate this process are discussed and complemented with the experiences and lessons so far. The report contains a couple of directions for actions, especially for policy makers but also for players in the financial sector.

Main conclusions and recommendations from the report

The report states that new policy approaches are key in attracting huge private financing for renewable energy. Governments should consider scaling up of renewable energy as part of their robust economic development strategy, rather than as an environmental strategy with the secondary benefits of job creation. Such an approach is fundamental to attracting new private-sector investment to finance renewable projects at a scale that is needed to address climate change. Proven mechanisms should not be abandoned, but new policies have to target ways to reduce the risk-to-reward ratio in order to enhance private sector investor confidence for investment in large scale renewable energy.

Extra information


Implementing national policies may threaten the eligibility of renewable energy projects for CDM/JI, thus reducing international development financing. Therefore countries need to be very careful when crafting their national promotion policies. The objectives of the IEA-RETD project were to perform a scoping study on the interplay between national RE promotion policies and international carbon trade. The study summarizes the ongoing discussion, describes the main barriers that may hinder – or at least not sufficiently support – the implementation of national RE promotion policies, and provides suggestions for removing these barriers.


Costs of Inaction

Presentation Costs of InactionRETD initiated this project to advance the understanding of the “Costs of Inaction”, i.e. the costs of climate change adaptation, damages and fossil fuel dependence. A quantitative estimate was developed as well as a better understanding of the knowledge gaps and research needs. The project also included some conceptual work on how to better integrate the analyses of mitigation, adaptation, damages and fossil fuel dependence in energy scenario modelling.