The main resource of Gorj County is represented by its inhabitants, hence any transformation plan should be centred on them, as they are both the driving force and the beneficiaries of any economic and social progress of their county. The transition towards a carbon-neutral economy, probably the main concern worldwide in the next few decades, requires a significant number of new jobs. That is why Gorj County can rebuild its local identity around the sustainable energy transition, contributing to the significant efforts required for investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency or clean transport, thus continuing to play a central role in the Romanian economy. Gorj County can thus shift from the county with the highest carbon dioxide emissions in Romania to a leading region in this sustainable transition.
This is a favourable moment for starting this transformational process for the county’s economy. Post-pandemic recovery, the funding made available across Europe especially for this purpose, but also the significant amounts that Romania has available for the energy transition, along with the commitment of central and local authorities to ensuring a just transition, create the first and, at the same time, a rare window of opportunity for reconfiguring the county’s economy. In supporting this approach, this study proposes a transition path which can ensure sustainable and diversified economic growth, attracting well-paid jobs and increasing the quality of life. For the transition of Gorj towards a sustainable county, this study proposes a series of short-, medium- and long-term objectives. The main immediate priority of the county authorities should therefore be to capitalise on the potential of renewable resources and renovate existing buildings. Renewable energy is the main decarbonisation vector of the European economy. The solar potential in Gorj County is above the national average and, consequently, must represent a priority in this endeavour. At the same time, the renovation of buildings to increase energy efficiency is another opportunity offered by the sustainable transition, with positive effects on the county’s economy, as well as on individual households, by reducing energy costs and improving living conditions.
As long-term objectives, Gorj County must attract as large a share as possible of the value chains for advanced energy technologies with a contribution to the decarbonisation process. It is worth mentioning that for the counties where coal mining and its use in the energy sector were the main object of activity, staying relevant in the operation of the national energy system is justified. By developing the proposed value chains, their role will remain relevant.
Following an analysis of the economic situation in the county and of its educational profile, the study identifies four value chains:
1. renewable energy and electricity grids;
2. energy efficiency in buildings and heat pumps;
3. batteries, components and infrastructure for electric vehicles;
4. “green” hydrogen-based technologies. The county’s competitive advantages are also presented as well as a few measures that could enhance them