(23 March 2018) – There are potential synergies between renewable energy and rural development, but they remain mostly unrealised, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors.
Several EU and national funding programmes are available to incentivise the production and use of renewable energy, one EU source being the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). However, the auditors noted that the European Commission was unable to provide comprehensive up-to-date information on financial support for renewable energy, both overall and under the EAFRD.
The auditors visited five Member States: Bulgaria, France (Basse-Normandie), Italy (Tuscany), Lithuania and Austria. They found that most of the Member States visited did not use the Rural Development funds to prioritise renewable energy projects, which also had the potential to contribute to sustainable rural development.
Whilst many projects visited did have positive economic and environmental results, Member States also funded projects that had an economic benefit for the project owners but had little further positive impact on rural areas.