How does a rural economy transition and adapt new energy paradigms?

How do we transition from old energy assets to newer technologies?

Economic Tools

Energy and rural economies

Project Title: Maximising the value of the energy transition for rural and regional Queensland


Research team:

The project was co-ordinated by the Australian Institute for Business and Economics (AIBE) at UQ w. The following UQ academics werebe involved in the delivery of the project. 


The project report "Maximising was Value of the Energy Transition for Rural Communities" published in May 2022. 


Chief Investigator:

  • Dr Cristyn Meath - Postdoctoral Research Fellow, AIBE & Lecturer, UQ Business School


Research Team

  • Dr Belinda Wade - Lecturer, UQ Business School 
  • Professor John Mangan - Director, AIBE
  • Spencer (Yumeng) Tong – Research Assistant, AIBE
  • Associate Professor Ben Lyons, Director, RECoE

Background and issue:

The energy landscape in Queensland is diversifying with implications for regional Australian agribusiness, industries and communities. The development of large-scale renewables projects is increasing rapidly representing a significant form of infrastructure investment for rural economies. Assessing the changing energy landscape including the broader impacts to rural communities and economies is, therefore, critical to inform stakeholders and maximise the value of the energy transition for regional Australia.


This research project maps the emerging energy landscape in regional Australia, identifying implications and opportunities for agribusiness, irrigation and other primary industries. The study also examines the economic, social and ecological impacts of large-scale energy and renewables projects through the comparative analysis of a number of projects within Australia.  Outputs include a decision making support tool for local government and best practice guidelines for development of new energy infrastructure which maximise benefits for rural communities supported by rigorous academic .



Proposed methodology:

Stages 1-2: Implications and opportunities of the energy transition for rural Australia

Mapping the energy landscape for rural Australia

A desktop study of emerging energy projects will be conducted allowing the researchers to map the energy landscape in rural Australia.


Implications and opportunities of the energy transition for rural Australia

Extending on the results of stage 1, an investigation of the implications and opportunities of emerging energy projects will be undertaken through a systematic literature review and semi-structured interviews with industry and government. The results will inform local governments and policy of a range of considerations when assessing the value of new energy projects including the potential to support new industry or agribusiness opportunities.


Stage 3-4: Measuring the value of large scale renewables projects for rural communities


A multi-regional economic model for large-scale renewables projects

A multi-regional economic model previously developed by Professor John Mangan will be specifically adapted for large scale renewables projects in rural communities. The model will include broader metrics to provide a comprehensive picture of socio-ecological impacts. This will be achieved through a systematic literature review of impacts from large-scale infrastructure projects in rural communities and application of the model to large-scale renewables projects.


The application of the multi-regional economic model to the projects will be based on findings from the literature review, meta-analyses and information from stakeholders for each project. Such factors could include construction and ongoing operation of the project, energy produced, increases to tourism and other flow on effects to the rural community and multi-level regions within which each project is situated.


A comparative analysis of impacts associated with three large-scale renewables projects

Case study sites will be selected to reflect differing geographic or project characteristics to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impacts of large-scale renewables on communities and to maximise the applicability of the findings. Impacts will be based on the analysis of data from the developers, key stakeholders, findings from academic literature and expert opinion where required. The renewables projects investigated for the case study will be determined by the research team once the model extension is finalised.



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