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15 May 2024, 12:32
Jack McGovan

Improving energy transition acceptance in rural areas crucial for success – govt advisors

Clean Energy Wire

Convincing those living in rural areas of the importance of the energy transition is a “basic requirement” for transforming the energy system successfully, according to a new report published by the German Advisory Council on Rural Development (SRLE). Typically, renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar panels or wind turbines, is built in rural areas, meaning communities there are more impacted by their expansion. “It’s not just about more wind farms or solar parks, above all the energy transition requires its acceptance by local people,” German agriculture minister Cem Özdemir said. He added that this is a “joint task for politicians at the federal and state levels” and that the federal ministry of agriculture (BMEL) will discuss the report’s recommendations.

Maintaining municipal control in site planning is one of the big recommendations. To achieve this, the SRLE suggests that federal and state governments should support municipalities in designing expansion; that wind and solar should be considered together, and where possible be built on the same land; and that building facades and brownfield sites should be prioritised for building renewable energy infrastructure. To improve the financial participation of municipalities and citizens, the SRLE suggests, among other things, that community energy companies should be strengthened and actively supported. For the sake of fairness, the SRLE proposes geographically fair network fees, and compensation fees for municipalities in areas with power lines.

An analysis from last year suggests that the energy transition could be an economic boon for left-behind rural areas across Europe. In Germany, research shows that there is a split in support for climate measures between urban and rural areas, a phenomenon also seen in Europe more broadly.

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