Wind power in Brazil: A multi-scale approach of socio-ecological conflicts in coastal communities

Alice Santos
This research analyzes the impacts of wind parks on the rural livelihoods of coastal communities in Northeast Brazil. Since 2002 the Brazilian government has been investing on wind power in order to increase energy supply and reduce the dependency on fossil fuel resources, thus enabling the countryŽs further economic growth under a more sustainable path. In 2011 the worldŽs wind power installed capacity has increased by 21% while in Brazil it has increased by 62%. 2012 alone, the Federal Bank for Social and Economic Development (BNDES) issued about 1.4 billion dollars in loans for wind power projects. The Northeast coast of Brazil has been receiving most of the projects, as it offers highly advantageous wind conditions.

Despite this positive framework, these projects have been criticized by the poor communities affected, academic researchers, public prosecutors and environmental NGOs. They question the licensing of wind projects in environmentally protected areas and a number of resulting environmental injustices.

Based on the theoretical approaches of "Political Ecology", and "Environmental Governmentality" and "Environmental Justice", this work analyses the causes for occurring social -environmental impacts and conflicts with affected communities. Through a case study, the aim is to point out challenges and new strategies to the creation of a governance environment for the wind power sector which indeed contributes to rural sustainable development in Brazil.