Fair energy transitions in rural areas for a sustainable future for all
In a world where renewable energy is becoming increasingly important, rural communities face the challenge of navigating sustainability transitions while struggling for justice and self-determination. A project at Linnaeus University will investigate energy justice in Swedish rural areas and pathways towards a sustainable future for all.
The project aims to understand how rural communities experience and are affected by renewable energy transitions, with a particular focus on the expansion of wind power infrastructure. Despite the growing importance of renewable energy, wind power projects in rural areas often face opposition from residents, says Solène Prince, project leader and senior lecturer in tourism studies at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University.
"Protests are often based on concerns about disrupted views and disturbing noises, which can affect outdoor activities, tourism, and other industries dependent on the quality of the landscape. Additionally, criticism is often directed at the fact that the electricity produced in rural areas is mostly used elsewhere," she continues:
From northern New Brunswick, in the French-speaking part of Canada
2012: Exchange student for one year at Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall
2011: Masters in sustainable development at Uppsala University
2017: PhD in tourism studies at Mid Sweden University in Östersund
2019–2021: Postdoctoral fellow at Linnaeus University
2021–2023: Lecturer and researcher at Mid Sweden University in Östersund
From 2023 onwards: Senior lecturer in tourism studies at Linnaeus University
"Our goal with the project is to create a fair and transparent planning process that involves local residents and takes into account their opinions and needs. By conducting interviews, workshops, and collaborating with protest groups and local stakeholders, we will gather data on the real experiences and needs of those affected by renewable energy transitions."
Including rural voices
"We will develop proposals and results that can influence future policies and ensure a fair transition to renewable energy systems for rural communities. This means including rural voices in the design of policies based on their real experiences and needs."
By understanding the unique challenges and needs of rural areas in renewable energy transition processes, the project aims to create a future where sustainability and justice go hand in hand. With participatory methods and a deep understanding of rural community dynamics, the researchers hope to contribute to a sustainable future for all, regardless of where they live.
Additional project on wind power planned
Solène Prince has another research project underway – a three-year research project funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency as part of their program "Offshore wind farms in coexistence with society and environment 2023."
Solène's project is titled "Offshore wind energy and tourism co-existing in the sustainable blue economy: Holistic Assessment tool for informed decision-making" and will start in the fall of 2024. The project is a collaboration between researchers at Linnaeus University and Mid Sweden University. More information: https://www.naturvardsverket.se/om-miljoarbetet/forskning/miljoforskning/natur/havsbaserad-vindkraft (information in Swedish).
About the Project
- Project name: Energy justice for rural communities – Towards pathways to empowerment in sustainability transitions
- Timeline: January 1, 2024 – December 31, 2027
- Funder: Formas Annual Open Call – Research Projects for Early Career Researchers