Renewables help countries weather economic shocks, study suggests

Countries that have significant amounts of renewable energy infrastructure tend to recover faster from economic shocks, a study has shown.

Researchers from Trinity College, Dublin, looked for patterns in data from 133 systemic economic crises that affected 98 countries over a 40-year span.

Their analysis suggests that countries relying on a broader range of energy sources experience longer recovery times. However, the best predictor of economic recovery was the extent to which a country relied on renewable energy.

The researchers said that while their findings came from a widely diverse set of societies and their economies, the extent of reliance on renewable energy consistently accounted for a major proportion of the variability in economic recovery time.

They believe the analysis provides strong support for nations to strengthen their focus on the renewable transition.

Professor Ian Donohue, lead author of the research, said: “Our findings highlight the importance of the intrinsic link between natural resources provided by ecosystems and the stability of the economies that rely on them.

“Ultimately, they point to the need for a fundamental reassessment of both national and international energy policy, not only for the sake of our environment, but also to enhance the stability – and sustainability – of our economies.”

He added: “This work provides another compelling reason to double down on our efforts to focus on renewable energy sources such as on- and offshore wind. Doing so would add a third ‘win’ to what was already a win-win scenario, as a greater reliance on renewable energy will reduce our carbon emissions, help protect our precious biodiversity and now, seemingly, also provide a more resilient economy.”

Professor Robert Costanza, co-author of the study, said: “Although the mechanisms underpinning our results are unclear, one likely explanation is that renewables accelerate recovery because they are locally produced and not subject to the high volatility of availability and prices connected with fossil fuels.”

Last year, the government announced a strategy to boost the UK’s energy security with new commitments focusing on boosting nuclear, wind, solar and hydrogen, as well as new licences for oil and gas exploration.

According to the government, the strategy could see up to 95 per cent of the UK’s electricity generated through low carbon means by 2030.

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