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Renewable Energy for Sustainable Arctic Communities: A Framework for Conceptualizing RE Projects as Drivers of Sustainable Development



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Rural Northern communities often struggle to build and maintain sustainable economies. The current models of economic development often do not provide paths to long-term sustainable communities. Concurrently, the concept of human development and wellbeing in the Arctic is being reimagined beyond traditional economic indicators, which drives the need for new projects and industries that can support local economies and contribute to overall community wellbeing. Community renewable energy (CRE) projects have been proposed as a driver of sustainable development in the Arctic and globally. Research on CRE projects has highlighted many hypothesized socio-economic benefits. However, there is a limited understanding of the mechanisms that generate these socioeconomic benefits. This thesis seeks to identify the mechanisms that make CRE projects drivers of sustainable development in rural Northern communities by advancing a CRE model, called the community renewable energy framework, informed by a nation building approach and the concept of creative class. The nation building approach highlights the importance of self-governance, competent governing institutions, cultural match, and long-term planning are instrumental. These factors provide the foundation for deriving socioeconomic benefits from CRE but it is not sufficient to motivate a new future in Northern communities. The creative class concept, with critical adaptations, can be applied to CRE projects to extend their impact beyond the direct benefits and motivate sustainable development through the creation of a local creative class. Finally, this conceptual framework is applied to a community in Northern Norway. This thesis contributes to the body of research highlighting the potential of CRE projects to motivate sustainable development in Northern communities.



Creative Class, Nation Building, Community Renewable Energy



Master of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.)


School of Environment and Sustainability


Environment and Sustainability


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