Workers assemble turbine.

Understanding the Economic Growth Benefits of Renewable Energy Action

By Climatelinks

Understanding the development impacts and co-benefits of renewable energy development is critical to reaching scale in the clean energy field. In particular, analyzing economic development impacts, such as employment and gross domestic product can encourage economic growth through activities in the energy sector.

The International Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (I-JEDI) tool, a publicly available economic model, helps policymakers and practitioners analyze economic impacts of renewable energy development. The tool estimates gross economic impacts from wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy projects. In Zambia, for example, the I-JEDI tool played an important role in assessing the economic development impacts of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution.

I-JEDI characterizes the construction and operation of renewable energy projects in terms of expenditures and the portion of those expenditures made within the country of analysis. This data plugs into a country-specific model to estimate employment, earnings, gross domestic product and gross output impacts. The model presents total economic impacts as well as impacts by industry. This information can help practitioners make the case for renewable energy action aligned with key economic development goals.

Countries in the 2016 version of I-JEDI include Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa and Zambia. The I-JEDI model has already been useful to these countries. Additional countries will be added to the model over time.


IJEDI homepage screenshot

The Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (EC-LEDS) program recently launched two exciting partnerships to expand use of the I-JEDI tool in two regions. In Latin America, EC-LEDS is partnering with the LEDS LAC Platform (a regional platform of the LEDS Global Partnership) on an online interactive training series to enable independent use of the tool. This training builds on a regional in-person training last November in Mexico City in partnership with the Government of Mexico’s National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change.

The EC-LEDS program is scoping activities to support the Government of Jamaica in assessing economic impacts of renewable energy actions included in its Nationally Determined Contribution. Assessing economic impacts will support implementation and build on completed analysis that used the Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) model.

In Southern Africa, EC-LEDS, in collaboration with the 21st Century Power Partnership, is supporting the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to apply the I-JEDI model to South African policies and lead I-JEDI in South Africa and the broader southern Africa region. As a first step, the Council will participate in an in-depth I-JEDI fellowship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory this coming April. The fellowship will facilitate directly applying the I-JEDI tool to analyze various economic impacts of South Africa’s integrated resource plan. The Council will then lead I-JEDI train-the-trainer events in the region later in the year.

Renewable energy deployment often depends on its benefits to the local and regional economy. The I-JEDI tool puts this economic data at your fingertips—data that policymakers want and need to make decisions to promote robust low-emission development.

If you would like to learn how to use I-JEDI and apply it in your country, resources are available to support you. Access the I-JEDI tool fact sheet and user guides in English and Spanish, tool profile and online video tutorial. Additional support exists to enable linking I-JEDI with broader development impact assessment processes.

You can also access free expert support to enable use of I-JEDI for specific policy and program applications through the Clean Energy Solutions Center “Ask an Expert” service and the LEDS Global Partnership’s “Remote Expert Assistance for LEDS” service.

I-JEDI was developed by NREL under the U.S. government’s EC-LEDS program. For more information on I-JEDI support please contact: [email protected]. For specific technical questions related to IJEDI please contact: [email protected].   

Strategic Objective
Low Emission Development, Clean Energy, Mitigation



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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