Melville Kendal, Chairman of the AER working group on energy and climate change was in Barcelona on 18 November on the occasion of the Smart City Expo World Congress to present the AER report “Rurality and regional development: Unlocking our territories’ economic and social potential”. The event, which gathers thousands of participants each year, featured an experts panel debate on balancing the bidirectional urban-rural flow of resources, materials, products and services, inviting rural areas to join the smart revolution.
The AER report, which underlines the importance of including the rural world in growth strategies, adresses 4 main topics:
1. Healthcare services: how can we maintain them and make them more accessible?
2. Digital attractiveness: how can we develop infrastructures and usages?
3. Energy transition: what are the perspectives for diversifying the rural economy?
4. Demographic revival: what are the policies for welcoming populations and project leaders?
In the framework of this debate organized by Rural Smart Grids, Melville Kendal focused more specifically on the topic of the energy transition and the role of rural areas in diversifying the rural economy. Rural areas account for nearly 60% of the population of the 27 European Union State members and cover 90% of the European territory. While they still often adopt a traditional process of using polluting energy sources such as carbon and oil fuel, they have high renewable energy potential compared with urban areas. In terms of heating, as housing is often older and widely dispersed, it tends to be less energy efficient, and more expensive. Improving it represents as well a tremendous local source of job creation to be exploited. This report was drafted in 2013 by 10 regions and gathers a series of good practices on each of the topics addressed. It is available for download on the AER website.