IRENA - GIZ Workshop on the Socio-economic Impacts of Renewable Energy

Growing renewable deployment comes with broader socio-economic benefits that are increasingly gaining prominence in the global renewable energy debate. To address this important topic, IRENA continues working on the econValue project that started in 2013 as a key project of the Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group, one of the initiatives of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM). As part of the econValue project, IRENA partnered with many key organisations and research institutions including the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), to analyse the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy deployment.

The first report entitled The Socio-economic Benefits of Solar and Wind Energy: an econValue report identified the potential for value creation along the different segments of the value chain for solar and wind technologies and the opportunities for value creation that can arise from supporting activities. It also discussed the right mix of cross-sectoral policies, covering deployment and industrial policies needed to fully benefit from the socio-economic impacts of renewable energy. The report also provided an overview of the different tools that can be used to assess the socio-economic impacts of renewable energy. The results of these applications can support informed decision-making on the deployment and the development of a local renewable energy industry.

In an effort to disseminate the findings of the report and bridge the existing knowledge gap on the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy, IRENA partnered with GIZ to conduct a joint workshop to discuss the main findings of the report and how the policy recommendations presented can be applied in countries of the MENA region. Given relatively high rates of unemployment, strains on trade balances, and challenges to economic development of MENA countries, socio-economic benefits are key drivers for renewable energy deployment in the region. The workshop took place on the 19th of January 2015 during the World Future Energy Summit that was held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The workshop aimed to:

  1. Share experiences, disseminate best practices and stimulate dialogues on effective and efficient renewable energy policy schemes that maximise the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy;
  2. Provide knowledge and share experiences on how the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy can be maximised from the perspective of practitioners and investors from the private sector;
  3. Provide knowledge on the various analytical methodologies and tools that can be used to assess the socio-economic impacts of renewable energy deployment;
  4. Promote IRENA’s analytical work on renewable energy policy and facilitate policy dialogue among Member States and experts in the field.


Participants gave insight into the following topics:

  1. Which strategies exist for economies in the MENA region to promote domestic value creation from renewable energy, considering the increasingly global nature of solar and wind supply chains? How can renewable energy firms in the MENA strengthen their international competitiveness in the light of rapidly changing global energy markets?
  2. What are success stories in the development of a domestic renewable energy industry in the region? Which lessons can be drawn from recent industry developments? What are opportunities and challenges of knowledge transfer in the region?
  3. Which further measures of value creation beyond GDP and employment should be included in future impact assessments to inform policy-making?

MENA countries are in the process of market creation/ expansion for renewable energy. In the last couple of years, a dynamic development of deployment policies can be observed as the representatives of Egypt (new FiT launched), Tunisia (ProSol elec promotes distributed PV generation), Jordan (PV net-metering and wheeling scheme is running) and Lebanon (financing scheme for distributed RE installations) reported.

In the course of this development, actual experiences on socio-economic benefits are available but are not always thoroughly analysed. In terms of policy trade-offs, Tunisia has experienced the impact on employment due to the development of the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector. In particular, positive impacts have been considerable in installation, operation and maintenance and other related services. The potential for manufacturing renewable energy equipment is also feasible in Tunisia, including local module incapsulation companies, solar water heater manufacturers and a local wind mast manufacturers.

All participants from government institutions and private sector agreed that other policy measures are necessary, in addition to deployment promotion policies, to maximise value creation in the region. Aspects like quality improvement of installations and component manufacturing (strengthening firm level capacities) as well as the upgrading of the workforce via targeted training for professionals and technicians have been mentioned by different participants.

The private sector representatives reported on their initiatives to take up the challenge of local value creation by engaging in training of technical personnel (EDAMA, Jordan) and clustering of private sector actors of the solar value chain in one location (Solar Breeder concept, Morocco).

The need for further exchange on the implementation of specific measures for value creation has been identified. On the analytical level more emphasis should be given to the timing and sequence of policy measures as well as to the regular gathering of data on the actual developments in the field of value creation through renewable energy and energy efficiency. Any real-life assessment of the actual value creation potential of RE/EE for MENA countries will also need to look more deeply into the importance of RE/EE related services as a motor for growth and employment in the medium and short term.


The presentations given by the speakers can be downloaded as per the Agenda below:

Presentations from the workshop:

  1. Maximising socio-economic value creation through policies by Ulrike Lehr, GWS and Barbara Breitschopf, ISI Fraunhofer
  2. Key Tradeoffs and Priority Issues for Optimizing Socio-economic Benefits of RE/EE by Steffen Erdle, GIZ
  3. The SOLAR BREEDER Initiative by Giovanni Simoni, KENERGIA
  4. Tools to assess socio-economic impacts by Ulrike Lehr, GWS and Barbara Breitschopf, ISI Fraunhofer
  5. Selection criteria and examples of tool application by Alvaro Lopez-Peña, IRENA
  6. Understanding the effects of Renewable Energy investments in development by Natalia Caldes, CIEMAT


Photos of the event can be found below.