Renewable Energy Can Create Economic Boom, But Better Policies Needed

Implementing the right policies and frameworks can achieve large-scale deployment of renewable energy that creates jobs, increases incomes, improves trade balances, and contributes to industrial development, according to a new report by the Clean Energy Ministerial's Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group.

The report, econValue — The Socio-economic Benefits of Solar and Wind Energy, analyzes the circumstances under which renewable energy can boost economies and benefit communities by studying the effects of solar and wind energy on the environment, economy, and society. Produced by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the report provides a framework to help policy makers analyze the various economic opportunities that may be offered by solar and wind sector development and the potential of various policy instruments to best realize those opportunities.

The report focuses on key macroeconomic variables for assessing economic impact — including value added, gross domestic product, welfare, and employment — and looks at opportunities at each stage of the renewable energy life cycle, from project planning and manufacturing to maintenance and decommissioning.

The report also analyses policies that stimulate the deployment of renewables, as well as those policies that help build a domestic industry by encouraging investment and technology transfer; strengthening firm-level capabilities; and promoting education, training, research, and innovation. Case studies are used to support key recommendations for policy options to maximize value creation. Finally, the report provides guidance on the selection of tools that can be used to assess socio-economic impacts of renewable energy deployment.

Solar power in particular could soon become as commonplace as roads — literally. An Idaho couple has developed a modular paving system of solar panels that can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, as well as playgrounds, and generate electricity to power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots.

In Hawaii, an overwhelming number of residents (94 percent) support more rooftop solar, and 90 percent believe that Hawaiian Electric (HECO) — the state’s largest supplier of electricity — is slowing rooftop solar to protect its profits, according to a recent opinion poll. The poll confirms that most residents are familiar with and supportive of rooftop solar; one-third have family members with solar, and more than half have neighbors with solar.


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