get Peasant Studies | Wind Energy Impacts and Issues

[ exact phrase in "" ]

[ including uploaded files ]


List all documents, ordered…

By Title

By Author

View PDF, DOC, PPT, and XLS files on line
Get weekly updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5


Add NWW documents to your site (click here)

Peasant Studies 

Articles from The Journal of Peasant Studies

Book review: Power struggles: dignity, value, and the renewable energy frontier in Spain
Gavin Smith
May 4, 2020
[download pdf]

After years in which nobody showed any interest, at last now as we enter the second decade of an apocalyptic century, the world’s fifth largest oil company is to address the energy transition. And they are going to do it by casting off the past and creating a new future with the use of bold technological innovations. Or so we are to believe. …

[T]here [is nothing] especially new about trashing the past and announcing solutions for the future through the ubiquitous ‘technological fix’ that offers above all to ‘keep growing the cashflows’. This current zombie-like life of modernist reasoning is as sinister as it is duplicitous. For those working in the global south you would need to have come to the show well into Act Two not to be aware that there are multiple forms of livelihood that do not conform to this kind of ecological regime and, as a result, have to combine their daily struggle with another, this one against the expansionist imperatives of capitalist firms and states. …

Because in Power Struggles the account of these two worlds is not set in the global south but rather in the heart of Europe, it is especially powerful in belying the modernist narrative that turns spatial peripheries into temporal exemplars of the past waiting to be brought into the somehow sustainable future by technical experts. …

With Chapter Five, we move to the offices of the advocates of wind energy and their cadres in the field. … Chapter Six details the penetration of the wind farms into the Terra Alta, showing how the form that dispossession takes influences the responses to it. …


The sun and the scythe: energy dispossessions and the agrarian question of labor in solar parks
Ryan Stock & Trevor Birkenholtz
December 15, 2019
[download pdf]

Abstract:  Green grabbing is accelerating throughout the Global South to facilitate climate change mitigation. This paper illuminates the discursive and extra-economic means through which the state dispossesses agropastoralists of both land and energy to develop solar parks in semi-arid rural India. We advance the empirical and theoretical aspects of energy dispossessions, with implications for the agrarian question of labor. Using data obtained from mixed methods fieldwork, this research reestablishes the urgency of responding to the classical agrarian question in the context of low-carbon energy transitions.

[L]arge-scale land acquisitions for renewable energy transitions comprise a defining feature of the present ‘global land rush’, which is likely to reconfigure land-use patterns and rural livelihoods. [T]he Government of India has allocated Rs. 4050 crore (roughly USD $648 million) to develop 25 ‘ultra-mega’ solar power projects (defined as solar parks with a minimum generating capacity of 500 MW) by 2020 throughout India. However, each of these ultra-mega solar parks require thousands of acres of open land … Indian ‘wastelands’ are a census category denoting public space in rural settings not being used for agriculture. The labeling of them as being ‘wasted’ allows for the construction of these spaces as ‘“empty”, [and] “unproductive” land “available” for development.’ Yet, these lands are part of the commons, used and managed by agropastoralists, who rely on these spaces for grazing, fodder and fuelwood foraging. Their transformation from commons to solar parks necessitates prohibiting agropastoralists’ usage through the creation of new policies that transform property relations, making land amenable to enclosure.


Power for the Plantationocene: solar parks as the colonial form of an energy plantation
Ryan Stock
September 13, 2022, Volume 50, Issue 1, Pages 162-184

Abstract:  Solar park development in India constitutes racial regimes of land ownership, as solar-related dispossessions produce a highly racialized (through caste) and gendered surplus population of landless peasants. Conceptualizing the power relations of solar power through the Plantationocene, I argue that the highly ordered form of the solar park is a set of neocolonial social relations akin to an energy plantation; an archetype of an imperative, idealized and racialized reordering of nature, economy and society to power a more sustainable world-system. Agrarian climate justice requires intersectional peasant coalitions struggling to transform neocolonial land politics and implementing redistributive and emancipatory solar interventions.


Proyectos de muerte and proyectos de vida: Indigenous counter-hegemonic praxis to sustainable development in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico
Erik Post
June 18, 2022

Abstract:  Nahua and Totonakú activists in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, have challenged the state-sanctioned and corporate-driven imposition of small hydropower projects as sustainable development. They deploy a counter-hegemonic discourse that labels these projects as proyectos de muerte that perpetuate violence and rearticulate coloniality. Simultaneously, they engage in proyectos de vida that build an alternative future premised on Indigenous resurgence and autonomy. The findings illustrate the importance of analysing ontological dimensions of violence and demonstrate the urgency of articulating decolonial alternatives to the sustainable development paradigm and its approach to the renewable energy transition.


‘Murderous energy’ in Oaxaca, Mexico: wind factories, territorial struggle and social warfare
Alexander Dunlap & Martín Correa Arce
February 23, 2021, Volume 49, Issue 2, Pages 455-480
[download pdf]

Abstract:  This article examines the struggle against the new Électricité de France (EDF) wind park, Gunaa Sicarú, in Unión Hidalgo (UH), Mexico. Foregrounding Indigenous land defense, the article refers to wind energy as ‘wind factories’ to discuss agrarian change in the region. Revealing the counterinsurgency colonial model as a foundational approach to extractive development, the article argues that the distribution of money, Sicarios (hitmen) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are instrumental to engineering ‘social acceptance’. Moreover, the liberalism underlining NGOs, if not careful, advances processes of infrastructural colonization and, consequently, wider trajectories of (neo)colonialism.

The terms ‘wind park’, ‘wind farm’ and ‘utility-scale wind energy’ do not capture the current reality behind wind energy development. These words, in actuality, subtly preform public relations by referring to parks, farms and public amenities to describe a type of power plant or private energy factory. Wind energy development, as a method of ‘green extractivism’, actually spreads wind factories to capture the vital force of winds. Extraction is understood as pulling, drawing out and harnessing (usually with special effort, skill or force) various minerals and hydrocarbons from subsoils or, as green extractivism suggests, kinetic energy from wind, solar, hydrological and bioenergy ‘resources’. While windmill technology emerged from ancient civilizations, industrial wind turbines are a relatively new type of power plant assemblage regarded as a ‘clean’, ‘green’ and ‘renewable’ energy source. It is often popular in environmental policy – especially in terms of combating ecological crisis, and by extension climate change – although this is questionable at best, and completely unjustified at worst.

Agrarian change, conflict and related existing or anticipated negative socio-ecological impacts from wind factories are increasingly acknowledged. … the threat of agrarian – and corresponding socio-ecological – change has spawned resistance in [Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Mexico]. … Building on previous research in the Isthmus, specifically on political violence that advances (neo)colonial trajectories, this article details the micro-political processes involved in the social engineering of so-called ‘social acceptance’ or pacification for wind factory development in Unión Hidalgo. The article implicitly responds to wind energy ‘social acceptance’ studies in the region that do not question industrial development or the various forms of coercion necessary to make it possible. Furthermore, responding to Marta Conde and Philippe Le Billon’s call for additional research into ‘the repression of resistance’ by extraction companies and ‘the micro-politics and psychological dimension of conflict escalation’, social war theory is applied to highlight three interlaced modalities of repression in Unión Hidalgo: money, Sicarios (hitmen) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). …

Land enclosure, control and profiteering are central features of wind factory development in the Isthmus. Land/green grabbing entails the control of land and natural resources, supported by various international, national and local actors, through ‘a diversity of coercive and/or deceptive tactics’. Wind factory development in the Isthmus, it is argued, intensifies existing trajectories of land/green grabbing, but also neocolonization, ‘internal colonization’ and colonization in general. Consequently, ardent resistance has characterized the Isthmus’s wind factory development, primarily from Zapotec, Ikoot and Zoque peoples struggling to defend their land, sea and livelihoods from megaproject development. … ‘The Mexican state has always been very cautious about imposing extractivist projects in the Isthmus, due to the fear of social reactions’, as a human rights defender explains, yet wind energy extraction was promoted and defended by the Left in the Isthmus. ‘Leftist heroes’ and defenders of ‘the people’ became agents ‘promoting transnational capital’ and, as a daughter of a COCEI militant explains, ‘ended up being land grabbers and cacique intermediaries for the companies, justifying themselves by saying they bring more development to the region’. Political elites (caciques), select land owners, politicians and their networks have certainly benefited, yet there are significant and underestimated socio-ecological costs associated with the land-use change brought by wind factory development.

The ecological impacts of wind turbines are significant. Wind turbines necessitate tree clearance, road widening or construction. This negatively impacts the water table as well as animal habitats and migration patterns. Depending on the local geography, wind turbine foundations are 7–14 meters (32–45 ft.) deep, and about 16–21 meters (52–68 ft.) wide. Recent testimonies from workers drilling for bedrock on the Santa Teresa sand bar in 2010 attest that bedrock depths range between 17 and 48 meters (56–157 ft.). Water is traditionally found 1–2 meters below the surface in the Isthmus, and needs to be pumped out with the application of chemical solvents to harden the ground. Now ‘people have to dig their wells deeper to reach their water’, explains Ngupi, as there ‘is over 100 tons of cement injected into the foundations for each wind turbine. Then multiply that by 2,200’ wind turbines. Concrete is replacing ground water, severely affecting agrarian activities, which, according to Ngupi and others, is ‘creating a barrier of cement that stops fresh water from reaching the Lagoon system, accelerating its salinity and drying’. Inhibiting, degrading and preventing the subsistence of Zapotec and Ikoot peoples flirts with ecocidal and genocidal politics.

This type of construction also entails severe impacts on marine life. Fisherman Ta Chido, remembering the drilling on the Santa Teresa sand bar, recounts how the fish ‘did not die all of a sudden, like a heart attack, they lost their senses and their brains’ and ‘would wiggle and spin in circles in the water without being able to swim straight. Then waves would wash them onto the shore’. Once the wind turbines are in operation, they also affect avian life, ‘whose death from collision may exceed 6000 per year’ in the Isthmus. Wind turbines are reportedly systematically leaking oil into the ground from their propellers, resulting in reports of cow deaths and infertility. This also includes the issue of wind turbine decommissioning, which produces an abundance of infrastructure and e-waste. This was compounded by testimonies of serious health issues in areas where people live near wind turbines, although this remains a topic deserving independent medical investigation. These impacts, in addition to the dependence on extreme mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, processing, manufacturing and transportation, is why Dunlap argues ‘fossil fuel+’ is a more accurate term than ‘renewable energy’.

These negative ecological impacts, however, are often said to be compensated for by the resulting ‘employment’ and ‘social benefits’. Summarizing the situation, a land defender explains that when a company speaks of ‘employment’, it means becoming:

construction grunts, it means we can be working under the sun for them. It also means receiving all of the violence and insecurity of roaming hit squads, rising prices, the loss of biodiversity and our traditional ways of living. This all comes included with shitty job opportunities, which you are forced to call ‘benefits’ even though you will not be able to plant your food anymore and eat healthy, but you will be able to have a wage salary in exchange. That is the way you are useful to the system, self-sufficient indigenous people become cheap manual labor because the world needs to continue its current level of construction.

This speaks to discussions of dispossession and surplus labor in critical agrarian studies. Moreover, wind factory employment is temporary (6 months to 2 years), the quality of work is low and it pushes people into dependency and maldevelopment. ‘Bigu’, an Ikoot land defender, believes this discourse of searching ‘for our benefits within these projects’ is ‘domesticating the will of the people’, propagating ‘the belief that there can be such a thing as a benefit’. In actuality, since 2007, Bigu contends, there have been ‘no benefits’ – ‘[w]e can count with our hands the number of land owners in the Isthmus who are benefiting by wealth increases’ – only ‘social and ecological erosion have been seen’ and this is ‘being suffered by all’. Resistance has been met with violent repression dispensed by state forces, private security and extra-judicial actors, which became particularly acute in 2013 and has escalated into ‘drug war’-style violence since then.

Finally, only Eólica del Sur, out of 28 wind factories, was subject to a free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) consultation). For many, FPIC consultations offered a sense of hope and a possible pathway for Indigenous self-determination through participation in extractive development. Yet despite exercises in civic participation, consultations are increasingly understood as ‘empty bureaucratic procedures aiming to depoliticize extractive activities, defuse tensions, and enroll community members in state projects of resource extraction’. The first FPIC consultation in Juchitán was widely acknowledged as a theatrical performance that represented a state–corporate conflict of interest, violated cultural norms, provided inadequate information and served as a marketing platform for the project rather than adequately addressing the issues raised by participants (e.g. income transparency; social and environmental impacts). The approval of the wind park and the spectacular failure to provide meaningful consultation led Dunlap to argue that FPIC serves as a technology of ‘inclusionary control’ that works as ‘a politico-military hold-and-build technique designed to (re)establish control and legitimacy over populations resorting to direct action and asserting their legal rights against destructive development projects’. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) now employs consultations as the preeminent mechanism to implement its ambitious megaprojects and industrial corridor plans. These include the Isthmus Inter-Oceanic Corridor, which seeks to intensify extractive development in the Isthmus. For all these reasons, the land defender ‘Wild Tiger’ describes their experience with wind factory development as ‘murderous energy’ (energia asesina), since ‘the moment it enters a territory, it destroys the land, social bonds and comes with death threats to Indigenous people’.


The Gunaa Sicarú wind factory is planned on 4400 hectares of communal land. It will consist of 96 wind turbines (provided by Gamesa) built between UH and La Ventosa (see Figure 3), which is regarded by locals as ‘the most lively and fertile lands in our territory’. These lands, used for agriculture, livestock and palm leaf cultivation, were placed under threat on 29 June 2017 when the CRE approved a 30-year contract with the company, without an FPIC consultation. … On 23 March 2019 the ‘prior agreements phase’ began, and on 29 November 2019 the consultation ‘information phase’ began, which Comuneros now regard as ‘fraudulent’ and ‘a cruel joke’ because ‘the land contracts have already been signed before the consultation’.

The ‘information phase’ was done in a ‘single day’ by covering ‘all of the neighborhoods with propaganda’, explains Ngupi. The authorities ‘set up various module [information tables] in different parts of the town’. The consultations were inconveniently scheduled at five o’clock in the afternoon during weekdays, while Zapotec translators were absent; and, overall, few people came. The information offered was also inadequate: ‘they just started talking about human rights and Indigenous rights’, explained Guchachi; ‘they need to inform us about the possible impacts’. Similar to the Juchitán consultation, important information regarding finance, construction, social and ecological impacts were converted into a ‘know your rights’ lecture. Rights education replaced the transmission of meaningful ecological, social and economic information.

The consultation displayed the same, if not worse, dynamics as Juchitán’s Eólica del Sur consultation. Recounting her consultation experience, Bereguidxa3 explains:

Currently, public meetings and assemblies are filled with thugs paid to intimidate or make noise and disruptions. They are instructed to scream and whistle when indicated by certain hand signs from their leaders. These groups of thugs effectively intimidate people, nobody wants to go to the meetings anymore mainly for fear of being signaled out; there will be whispers about me and I can even be put on a hit list.

The consultation disruptions came mostly from construction unions and land owners. There are roughly five principal actors in UH’s wind factory conflict: the Mexican government (federal, state and municipal), EDF, land owners, construction unions, Comuneros and regional opposition groups. …

Despite the way the government, politicians, land owners and landless workers embrace wind factory development, agrarian change toward dependency, the loss of control over land and the failure to provide (noticeable) collective benefits have made the EDF wind factory unpopular. The socio-ecological pacification necessary for the Gunaa Sicarú development has necessitated three interlinked process of distributing money, dispensing Sicarios and NGO intervention. These three processes manufacture social pacification and enforce the wind factory’s ‘social license’ to operate. 

Human rights NGOs have the potential to function as mechanisms of pacification by shifting rebellious groups from total rejection to negotiation. This shift is reinforced by legal impositions, (statist) threats of coercion and widening existing social divisions. ‘No one is going to finance you to oppose a megaproject – nobody’, explains a local human rights defender; ‘you are going to get financing if you engage in long-term cultural promotion for community development, gender empowerment and disaster reconstruction’. … Proud that the Isthmus is ‘listed as a problematic region for NGOs’, Natalie asks: ‘Why would we work with NGOs when their dynamic tends toward creating dependency based on their own agenda?’


The ‘solution’ is now the ‘problem:’ wind energy, colonisation and the ‘genocide-ecocide nexus’ in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca
Alexander Dunlap
The International Journal of Human Rights
November 17, 2017, Volume 22, Issue 4, Pages 550-573
[download pdf]

Abstract:  The coastal Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico – known locally as the Istmo – is regarded as one of the best wind energy generating sites in the world. Marketed as a preeminent solution to mitigating climate change, wind energy is now applying increasing pressure on indigenous groups in the region. The article begins by outlining a definition of colonialism that assists in identifying the temporal continuity of the colonial project to understand its relationship with wind energy development. The next section briefly reviews colonial genocide studies, discussing disciplinary debates between liberal and post-liberal genocide scholars, the relevance of self-management within colonial systems, the genocide-ecocide nexus and the ‘intent’ of destructive development projects. This leads into reviewing the claims and findings that emerged from fieldwork in the Istmo, which is divided into the north and south to show the different, yet similar dynamics taking place in the region. Finally, the article concludes that wind energy development as a ‘solution’ to climate change not only distracts from its dependence on fossil fuels and mining, but renews and continues a slow industrial genocide, assimilating and targeting (indigenous) people who continue to value their land, sea and cultural relationships.


Counterinsurgency for wind energy: the Bíi Hioxo wind park in Juchitán, Mexico
Alexander Dunlap
January 19, 2017, Volume 45, Issue 3, Pages 630-652
[download pdf]

Abstract:  Sustainable development and climate change mitigation policies, Dunlap and Fairhead argue, have instigated and renewed old conflicts over land and natural resources, deploying military techniques of counterinsurgency to achieve land control. Wind energy development, a popular tool of climate change mitigation policies, has consequently generated conflict in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Istmo) region in Oaxaca, Mexico. Research is based on participant observation and 20 recorded interviews investigating the Fuerza y Energía Bíi Hioxo Wind Farm on the outskirts of Juchitán de Zaragoza. This paper details the repressive techniques employed by state, private and informal authorities against popular opposition to the construction of the Bíi Hioxo wind park on communal land. Providing background on Juchitán, social property and counterinsurgency in Southern Mexico, this paper analyzes the development of the Bíi Hioxo wind park. It further explores the emergence of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ counterinsurgency techniques used to pacify resistance against the wind park, enabling its completion next to the Lagoon Superior in October 2014. Discussing the ‘greening of counterinsurgency’, this contribution concludes that the Bíi Hioxo wind park has spawned social divisions and violent conflict, and intervened in the sensitive cultural fabric of Istmeño life.

On 24 February 2013, in the Seventh Section neighborhood of Juchitán de Zaragoza, the Asamblea Popular del Pueblo Juchiteco (APPJ) was formed. The next day, on the southwest outskirts of town, they went public with a barricade on the highway to Playa Vicente to halt the construction of the Fuerza y Energía Bíi Hioxo Wind Farm. Then on 26 March, 1200 police came to break the barricade. A member of the APPJ recounts the event:

When we left the barricade heading north, about halfway we saw between 26 or 30 buses of state police, then my sister said to me: ‘Let’s go back, let’s go back!’ And I told her, ‘No, we have to keep going – stay calm’. She continued: ‘They are going to arrest you’, and I answered, ‘No, keep walking’. Then we got in my truck and we drove past the police convoy, arriving to a place called El Tanque. When we arrived in town, most of the neighbors were standing on the road – there were a lot. People were all over the road asking: ‘What can we do? What can we do?’ [A] neighbor close to me asked what to do, I told him: ‘Grab rocks, grab sticks, and anything you can to block the road, because they already passed, but they are going to need this road to get out and then they will be fucked’. To the other compañeros who were wondering about what to do, I told them to go to the loudspeakers in the town to make the announcement, and I went to do the same. I went downtown where the speaker is higher, so I called from there and said: ‘Now is the time! We have to defend our land, we have to defend our territory. My fellow countrymen, women, kids, elders and men grab everything you can: sticks, rocks, machetes and anything to defend our barricade!’ So, the mayhem starts. People came from the Fifth Section and downtown; they were young people, women, and children. Some women, even those who were identified for belonging to the [local leftist political party] Isthmus Coalition of Workers, Peasants and Students (COCEI) tied their chals on their waist as if it was a ceñidor so they could fill it with rocks and with that they were running to the highway.

The police shot teargas and slingshots because some of them are from Juchitán. And the people were defending themselves with anything they had: stones, throwing sticks, etc. The police tried to recover their vehicles, they couldn’t. The people saw them coming, burned a truck, and started fighting them. There was barbaric fighting. When the police tried to take back their vehicles from the barricades and run away, the people attacked them with stones and made them get out of the vehicles and run into the field. They ran towards Unión Hidalgo and left their shields – we picked up around 40 shields that the police abandoned. At night, somebody told us that the police were picked up around Union Hidalgo by the military because some of them were naked in order not to be identified as police.

This battle went from 12 o’clock in the afternoon to two in the morning. Preventing ambulances from taking their wounded to avoid police custody, the resistance responded to the police arrests by capturing a policewoman to negotiate a prisoner exchange with the help of a local priest. Further, the APPJ negotiated 130,000 pesos in exchange for geographical survey equipment seized at the barricade for medical bills incurred during the battle, later leading to accusations of extortion by the owners – a charge dropped after investigation. The Binnizá (Zapotec) and Ikoot (Huave) farmers and fishermen associated with the APPJ, the Assembly of the Indigenous Peoples of the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIITDTT) and others have asserted their perceived and often disputed customary rights that have proven a threat to wind energy projects in the region.

The account above offers a glimpse into the level of conflict and resistance generated by wind energy projects in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca Mexico, known locally as the Istmo. This case fits a wider, well-documented pattern of so-called ‘green grabbing’ that describes how land is grabbed and controlled in the name of an environmental ethic to promote sustainable development and climate change mitigation programs, which has reignited old and created new conflicts over land and natural resources. Furthermore, it illustrates how, as argued by Dunlap and Fairhead, there is a history and continued reliance on military techniques of counterinsurgency to advance resource control and industrial development in ecologically diverse and sensitive areas. This reliance on counterinsurgency and other militarized techniques has been particularly well documented in relation to nature conservation, as captured in the notion of ‘green militarization’, defined by Lunstrum as ‘the use of military and paramilitary (military-like) actors, techniques, technologies, and partnership in the pursuit of conservation’. Büscher and Ramutsindela extend green militarization to a wider notion of ‘green violence’, describing the material, social and discursive dimensions as well as the longer histories of violence and militarization in a particular region and its conservation areas. …

Green economy initiatives have the potential to not only aid market growth, but also work in accordance with state stabilization strategies that seek to create predictable environments for civil and security sectors to manage rural populations.


Wind energy: toward a “sustainable violence” in Oaxaca
Alexander Dunlap
December 13, 2017
NACLA Report on the Americas
Volume 49, Issue 4, Pages 483-488
[download pdf]

Destruction continues. Not only ecological destruction, but the tearing apart of the remaining social fabrics of Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples that value and defend their ecosystems, cultures, and alternative ways of living against sprawling industrial interventions. Governments and their business partners have long declared war against these people and their environments. This “Fourth World War,” as Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos has called it, continues; a war spread all over the world in a series of diffuse low- and high-intensity contestations and conflicts that seeks to harness, control, and domesticate the natural resources of the world—human and nonhuman—to the imperatives of financial capital. …

To mitigate resistance and open new markets, capitalist development needed a “softer” and more effective approach. The concept of “sustainable development,” popularized in the 1987 Brundtland Report, proclaims that capitalist development can co-exist responsibly with the earth. This logic developed further with the rise of green economic and climate change mitigation programs. After the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, climate change mitigation became wedded to a market-based environmentalism that believes in “selling nature to save it,” according to Kathleen McAfee, later reframed as “saving nature to trade it” by Sian Sullivan. …

Paying lip service to ecological crisis and attempting to pacify popular resistance against neoliberalism and its infrastructure, the green economy is advancing the grabbing of Indigenous land, while privatizing social property and the extraction of wind, solar, hydro, thermal, “carbon,” and “biodiversity” resources. In short, the green economy is a continuation of war by other means in the Fourth World War. An examination of wind energy development in Oaxaca reveals how. …

We are witnessing the gradual articulation of a sustainable violence, which seeks to expand the scope, scale, and effectiveness of police-military power by integrating renewable energy, and works towards making repression campaigns ecologically friendlier, operationally more sustainable and, ideally, perpetual. When assessing renewable energy projects, we must not fall for the vague promises of so-called green energy. We must constantly ask: where are the raw materials coming from and what will this energy be used for? Because the “greening” of the military to make repressive operations self-sustaining is not something people or communities impacted by military and police violence should promote, let alone applaud.


Twenty-five years under the wind turbines in La Venta, Mexico: social difference, land control and agrarian change
Gerardo A. Torres Contreras
February 23, 2021, Volume 49, Issue 2, Pages 455-480
[download pdf]

Abstract:  As wind energy investments expand across rural areas, unique class dynamics and accumulation patterns result from this industry. The ejido La Venta town has hosted wind farms since 1994, allowing us to analyse the effects of wind power on patterns of social difference, land control and agrarian change. By drawing on agricultural censuses and on 40 interviews with landowners, this paper argues that wind energy investments shift patterns of land control, through fostering land-based incomes, over the long term. The result is enhanced social differentiation benefitting landowners with more than 20 hectares and pauperising those with small tracts of land.

In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, scholars have analysed the local impacts resulting from wind investment since the installation of the La Venta I wind farm, such as asymmetric information, violence, and employment throughout the construction and operation phases. This body of research, although important for improving our understanding of the impact of renewable energies, is lacking in long-term studies that shed light on the differentiated trajectories of agrarian change faced by those who lease their land to wind companies in the ejido system. This paper seeks to contribute to this gap and to other accounts that engage with landowners’ experiences in the region by focusing on the particular case of La Venta, allowing a more in-depth analysis of the consequences of wind investment for class dynamics and different patterns of accumulation among landholder subgroups over the last 25 years. In 1994, La Venta became the first ejido in Latin America to have a wind farm installed. Wind energy investment in the ejido has been so significant that, by 2020, they have extended to over 50 per cent of the land, occupying 3,221.8 hectares. Drawing on agricultural censuses on the ejido, discontinuous fieldwork in the region from 2017 to 2019, and 40 semi-structured oral history interviews focused on wind energy expansion and land use dynamics with current and former land authorities, activists and ejidatarios, this paper argues that wind investment has accelerated patterns of social differentiation among landowner subgroups, thereby exacerbating pre-existing land inequalities. Wind energy, therefore, results in different material and social relationships between landowners and wind energy, with actors benefiting – or not – according to pre-existing patterns of social difference.


A climate-smart world and the rise of Green Extractivism
Natacha Bruna
May 30, 2022, Volume 49, Issue 4, Pages 839-864
[download pdf]

Abstract:  Climate change policies’ implications for the capitalist system call for us to go beyond efficiency-driven extractivism and further analyse the outcomes of green policies. The implementation of Mozambique’s climate change policy resulted in the emergence of green extractivism, a variation of extractivism that is based on the extraction, expropriation and transfer of emissions rights from rural poor, in favor of external accumulation. Emission rights are one’s ability to rightfully use and benefit from ecological assets. Thus, under green extractivism, rural households are not only being deprived of resources determinant for their social reproduction, but also of their right to emit.


Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?
James Fairhead, Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones
April 19, 2012, Volume 39, Issue 2, Pages 237-261
[download pdf]

Abstract:  Across the world, ‘green grabbing’ – the appropriation of land and resources for environmental ends – is an emerging process of deep and growing significance. The vigorous debate on ‘land grabbing’ already highlights instances where ‘green’ credentials are called upon to justify appropriations of land for food or fuel – as where large tracts of land are acquired not just for ‘more efficient farming’ or ‘food security’, but also to ‘alleviate pressure on forests’. In other cases, however, environmental green agendas are the core drivers and goals of grabs – whether linked to biodiversity conservation, biocarbon sequestration, biofuels, ecosystem services, ecotourism or ‘offsets’ related to any and all of these. In some cases these involve the wholesale alienation of land, and in others the restructuring of rules and authority in the access, use and management of resources that may have profoundly alienating effects. Green grabbing builds on well-known histories of colonial and neo-colonial resource alienation in the name of the environment – whether for parks, forest reserves or to halt assumed destructive local practices. Yet it involves novel forms of valuation, commodification and markets for pieces and aspects of nature, and an extraordinary new range of actors and alliances – as pension funds and venture capitalists, commodity traders and consultants, GIS service providers and business entrepreneurs, ecotourism companies and the military, green activists and anxious consumers among others find once-unlikely common interests. This collection draws new theorisation together with cases from African, Asian and Latin American settings, and links critical studies of nature with critical agrarian studies, to ask: To what extent and in what ways do ‘green grabs’ constitute new forms of appropriation of nature? How and when do circulations of green capital become manifest in actual appropriations on the ground – through what political and discursive dynamics? What are the implications for ecologies, landscapes and livelihoods? And who is gaining and who is losing – how are agrarian social relations, rights and authority being restructured, and in whose interests?

Across the world, ecosystems are for sale. The commodification of nature, and its appropriation by a wide group of players, for a range of uses – current, future and speculative – in the name of ‘sustainability’, ‘conservation’ or ‘green’ values is accelerating.

This material is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this material resides with the author(s). As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Queries e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate


e-mail X FB LI TG TG Share

Get the Facts
© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.


Wind Watch on X Wind Watch on Facebook

Wind Watch on Linked In Wind Watch on Mastodon