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Rural Energy Transition in the Global North: Community Benefits, Contradictions and Future Challenges

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020) | Viewed by 461

Special Issue Editors

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Guest Editor
1. Department of Environmental Geography, Institute of Geonics, Czech Academy of Sciences, Drobneho 28, 608 00 Brno, Czech Republic
2. Department of Geography, Faculty of Science, Palacky University, 17. listopadu 12, 771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic
Interests: diffusion and uptake of renewable energy technology; socio-spatial consequences of occurrence of anaerobic digestion plants; agricultural change; brownfield regeneration; perception of brownfields; their alternative re-use options; regional brownfield prioritization
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Urban and Regional Development Studies, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Lwowska 1, 87-100 Toruń, Poland
Interests: sustainability; energy transition; local development; ecological awareness
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Geography, Institute of Geonics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Drobneho 28, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic
Interests: Energy geography; Renewable energy development; Landscape perceptions; Land-use conflicts; Wind energy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last decade we have been experiencing the transition towards more sustainable energy systems as a response to ongoing environmental risks. One of the ways how to reduce our high carbon dependency is deployment, generation and utilization of renewable energy. These new phenomena significantly affect especially rural space that has been traditionally conservative in adopting innovations and thus such new developments cause plenty of conflicts and community or land use tensions (Cowell et al., 2011). We already know that these tensions differ according to the policy settings, geographical location or local socio-cultural contexts of individual projects. There is also no doubt that the mentioned trends also offer wide possibilities for diversification of agricultural activities and they might lead to the desired and more sustainable socio-economic and environmental development of the rural areas. In other words, facilities for generation of renewable energy in the countryside are becoming an integral part of the wider societal change in favour of the sustainability transformation of the rural (Marsden and Rucinska, 2019).

We must keep in mind that the primary purpose of agricultural activities is food production. On the other hand, the connection of agriculture to renewable energy production seems to be mutually beneficial under condition that it is wisely managed. As rural areas are characterized by lower population density, it seems beneficial to support a de-centralized system of generating renewable energy. A huge potential of such locally generated electricity and heat for local development is obvious and plenty of successful examples of such symbiosis exist (Frantal, et al., 2018). In order to shed more light on the issue of rural energy transition, it is necessary to include social (Pasqualetti, 2011) and spatial relations in a given area as they determine all decisions in the scope of production, distribution, and consumption of energy.

The legal arrangements regarding the energy sector applicable in a given area must be also analysed in order to identify the key particularities. Special attention has to be devoted to studying the value systems influencing the daily behaviour of the population of the local communities affected by renewable energies. And finally, the perception of usage of the surrounding landscape by the local population has to be significantly taken into account. To move forward, the public and political support for individual energy industries need to be reconsidered (Chodkowska-Miszczuk et al., 2019). Therefore, the need to identify the drivers of energy transition in rural areas arises to deeply understand the frontrunners and first movers (Kaphengst ans Velten, 2014).

In our Special Issue, we strive to learn more about examples of rural energy transition from various geographical contexts in the Global North. We try to capture the spatial regularities of identified changes, to point out the directions of energy transition and to analyse the relationships formed between the new energy entities and the places where they are located.


Cowell, R., Bristow, G., & Munday, M. (2011). Acceptance, acceptability and environmental justice: the role of community benefits in wind energy development. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 54(4), 539-557.

Marsden, T., & Rucinska, K. (2019). After COP21: Contested Transformations in the Energy/Agri-Food Nexus. Sustainability, 11(6), 1695.

Frantál, B., Van der Horst, D., Martinát, S., Schmitz, S., Silva, L., Golobic, M., & Roth, M. (2018). Spatial targeting, synergies and scale: Exploring the criteria of smart practices for siting renewable energy projects. Energy Policy, 120, 85-93.

Frantal, B., Pasqualetti, M., & Van der Horst, D. (2014): New trends and challenges for energy geographies: Introduction to the special issue. Moravian Geographical Reports 22, 2-6.

Pasqualetti, M. J. (2011). Social barriers to renewable energy landscapes. Geographical Review, 101(2), 201-223.

Chodkowska-Miszczuk, J., Martinat, S., & Cowell, R. (2019). Community tensions, participation, and local development: Factors affecting the spatial embeddedness of anaerobic digestion in Poland and the Czech Republic. Energy Research & Social Science 55, 134-155. 

Kaphengst T., & Velten E.K. (2014). Energy transition and behavioural change in rural areas The role of energy cooperatives. Working Paper 60, MS26 WWWforEurope Working Papers.

Dr. Stanislav Martinat
Dr. Justyna Chodkowska-Miszczuk
Dr. Bohumil Frantal
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • Rural energy transition
  • Geography of energies
  • Impacts of renewable energies on rural areas
  • Renewables projects in the local system
  • Social acceptance and public support for renewable energy projects
  • Land use and community conflicts linked to renewable energy development
  • Community energy
  • Renewable energy and the rural tourism experience

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
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