Cohesive energy transition would benefit Europe’s rural regions – analysis
Clean Energy Wire
The renewable energy sector offers promising opportunities for economically disadvantaged rural regions in the European Union that could not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also bridge the economic divide across the bloc, according to an analysis by the German Bertelsmann Foundation. The analysis titled “Energising EU Cohesion” notes that 82 percent of today’s greenhouse gas emissions in the EU emanate from the energy sector. The EU’s Cohesion Policy helps ensure harmonious economic development across European regions. Adapting these aims “to address the dynamic shifts unfolding in the energy landscape could be key to achieving the EU's goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050,” the analysis found. The foundation, the main shareholder of media company Bertelsmann, notes that especially peripheral regions “are poised to reap substantial benefits”. In particular, rural regions in central France, Eastern Europe and areas along the North Sea and Baltic coast are positioned to harness their abundant wind energy potential. “Similarly, Mediterranean regions in Southern Italy, Greece and Spain can capitalise on their solar potential.”
The key determinant of whether or not a region benefits lies in its economic structures and potential for renewable energy production, the authors added. Less developed rural regions have a greater advantage as industries stand to gain significantly from the transition to renewable energy. These regions can also leverage renewable energy production, a flexibility that is less possible in urban areas burdened by greater energy demands and higher costs. The success of the European Green Deal, which mandates a substantial transformation of the energy sector, “transcends the rapid attainment of carbon neutrality; it necessitates preventing regions from slipping through the cracks in the process”, the analysis concluded. “Failing to do so not only jeopardises broader support for the Green Deal but also imperils both climate protection and European cohesion.” In Germany, public support for climate protection measures is split markedly between rural and urban areas.