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Just transitions to renewables in mining areas: Local system dynamics


  • García-García, Pablo
  • Carpintero, Óscar
  • Buendía, Luis


In the field of just energy transitions, local scales have been relegated and limited to qualitative approaches with non-specific methods by observation. Local quantitative approaches have gained popularity but remain far from the topic of just transitions and elude rural areas, probably because of data scarcity. Amid the quantitative panoply, system dynamics is attracting greater attention to alleviate such data shortages. Yet, despite the claim for holistic approaches, its application is scarce in rural contexts. This research presents an intuitive, scalable, and easily adaptable modelling exercise through system dynamics to estimate the effects on net employment and land availability of restructuring towards renewable energy sources in the rural mining areas of León (Spain), presenting possible lessons and policy implications for local and rural just transitions. A partially just transition is feasible in the short term, but a properly just transition is three decades late. The most optimistic projections suggest the potential creation of around five thousand jobs per zone, which is significantly fewer than the approximately forty-five thousand jobs that were recorded during the peak years of coal mining exploitation. Renewables fail to keep a young, qualified population in the areas, therefore showing the need to potentiate alternative activities, as well as causing sensitive trade-offs between land requirements and potential net employment. Land reductions for renewable projects vary depending on the scenario, ranging from 6 % to 17 %. This range poses a threat to the ecological integrity of these areas.

Suggested Citation

  • García-García, Pablo & Carpintero, Óscar & Buendía, Luis, 2024. "Just transitions to renewables in mining areas: Local system dynamics," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 189(PA).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:189:y:2024:i:pa:s136403212300792x
    DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2023.113934

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    References listed on IDEAS

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