The Box Springs Wind Farm in Medicine Hat, Alta., is one of five case studies U of A researchers compiled to show how renewable energy projects can benefit rural communities in Canada. (Photo: Green Energy Futures) Rural Canadian communities aren’t usually at the centre of conversations about renewable energy, but a University of Alberta environmental sociologist is hoping to help change that. John Parkins is examining how energy transitions have the potential to help rural communities struggling with shrinking populations, aging infrastructure and declining primary industries. The expert in rural development worries that these communities could be sidelined during a shift to renewables, leading to opposition, resentment and a widening political gap. “As a resource, renewables can potentially provide a solution,” said Parkins. “But there’s no automatic benefit to communities, unless communities are engaged and deeply involved in the design and implementation of these projects.” Last year, Parkins’ team built a searchable map showcasing the wide array of renewable energy projects across Canada. Now, they’ve added a series of case studies that demonstrate how renewable projects can strengthen economic resilience of Canadian resource towns, municipalities, First Nations and local landowners. Parkins’ report shows what’s possible for communities hoping to […]

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