Understanding the economic impacts of renewable energy development is critical to reaching scale in the clean energy transition. Analysis of the potential economic impacts of energy sector development also supports informed clean energy decision making and helps align renewable energy action with key economic development goals.
With this in mind, the USAID-NREL Partnership launched the International Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (I-JEDI) website, which houses the free-to-use I-JEDI tool. The I-JEDI tool can estimate gross economic impacts of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal energy projects within a country. The countries currently represented in the tool include Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, and Zambia, with an option to customize the tool for any country around the world.
Industry, governments, and other stakeholders can use I-JEDI to assess potential economic impacts of transitioning to clean energy, such as:
- Gross domestic product
- Other economic impacts from the construction and operation of renewable energy projects, including across the domestic supply chain.
I-JEDI is already informing clean energy decisions across the globe. The Mexico National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change used I-JEDI to inform a study titled Analysis of Value Chains of Selected Climate Technologies in the Transport and Electric Generation Sectors. In particular I-JEDI was used to evaluate potential employment impacts of renewable energy technology deployment. This analysis was then used to advise climate and energy policy decisions in Mexico.
In Zambia, the I-JEDI model was used to develop the country's climate plans, including their Nationally Determined Contribution target and other small-scale renewable energy projects. In addition, the Government of Zambia and Center for Energy, Environment, and Engineering Zambia (CEEEZ) used a complementary development impact assessment framework (described on the I-JEDI website Resources and Training page) to undertake broader assessment of development impacts of various renewable energy and climate actions. USAID and NREL worked with CEEEZ to build their capacity to use the I-JEDI tool independently.
The I-JEDI model has been used by technical institutions, consultancies, and governments, but using I-JEDI isn't just reserved for experts. Its interface allows users of varying expertise to work with the model seamlessly. First-time users can quickly obtain and interpret results, while users with more experience and sophisticated, detailed knowledge about projects will be able to tailor their analyses.
The I-JEDI website also provides other resources, such as an "Ask an Expert" feature, where users can reach out directly to the I-JEDI team with questions. Also available on the website are a comprehensive user guide, a variety of online training videos, and other publications to help stakeholders understand and interpret how the I-JEDI tool can be used to support decisions related to the transition to clean energy.
Sadie Cox is a Senior Researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). She has managed several projects related to low emission development strategies (LEDS) during her ten years at NREL and serves as a lead for power sector transformation through the LEDS Global Partnership. Sadie’s areas of research expertise relate to design and implementation of LEDS, approaches to enable international collaboration and capacity building for LEDS, power sector transformation and resilience, and distributed generation for energy access.
Isabel McCan is a Communications Project Coordinator at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism Studies from the University of Denver and is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado Denver.