Socio-Economic Analysis Is An Eye-Opener

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A socio-economic analysis makes it easier to explain the effects of a wind power project to local inhabitants. According to Jonas Lundmark, information coordinator of the Wind Power Centre of the Barents Region, it also gives a boost to those working with the project.

“The basic purpose of a socio-economic analysis is to demonstrate the effects of constructing wind turbines to citizens and other interested parties, mainly on the number of new jobs and tax revenue,” explains Jonas Lundmark of the Wind Power Centre of the Barents Region, an organization based in Piteå Municipality.

The project in the Markbygden area consists of a total of 1001 turbines. The first phase involves the installation of 314 turbines. Svevind AB is the company behind the installation and running of the generators via its Markbygden AB subsidiary, jointly owned with the German turbine manufacturer Enercon. Planning for what is expected to be one of the largest wind farms in Northern Europe started just over 5 years ago. It was initially thought that work on installing the first generator would start in 2013 but planning appeals may lead to delays.

The project, and the protests against it, have been through many twists and turns, including an appeal by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and letters to the editor in local newspapers.

“The longer the project is active, the more important it is for us to have a solid foundation to stand on when we are promoting it to the public. In the past we were happy to rely on the socio-economic analyses made by other wind farms and which we could adapt to our own conditions.”

In order to obtain a precise forecast of the effects on each individual municipality, the Wind Power Centre of the Barents Region commissioned IUC Sweden to carry out a thorough analysis.

“Early on, we had an indication that a wind farm as large as the one in Markbygden would provide a number of benefits. Now we have it in black and white. This has strengthened our conviction.”

Now, Jonas Lundmark and his colleagues in the municipality are bringing this analysis along to press conferences and other meetings with politicians and other interested parties, enabling them to show how the 314 planned generators are estimated to bring in an extra 313.9 million SEK in tax revenues in the first five years. Central government tax revenues will be double that amount at 663 million SEK. These figures are based on an estimated boost to employment amounting to nearly 4000 man-years.

What sort of jobs are we then talking about?

– We are mainly talking about job opportunities in the installation of wind turbines, ground works – hundreds of kilometers of roads would be built – power transmission lines, and permanent jobs in plant operation and maintenance. There would also be benefits for e.g. food retailers and plant hire companies.

How have people responded to the analysis?

– It has been a real eye-opener for many: “Blimey! Would it bring in that much tax revenue..?” to quote the press.

When the Wind Power Centre of the Barents Region commissioned the analysis they were very careful to ensure that IUC would base it on the true facts. “We haven’t used pie-in-the-sky figures. On the contrary, we have encouraged IUC to tone down expectations,” says Jonas Lundmark.

He believes that, in the longer term, when the analysis can be checked against the actual results, it could represent an important basis for debate in Piteå municipality as well as in other regions with similar plans.

“It will be interesting to look at the results when the wind farm is up and running. There are those who believe that the benefits will be even greater than those shown by the analysis,” he adds.

Read the whole analysis here: