Accepted Paper:

Controversies on renewable energies: A case study on the photovoltaic plant of Amareleja  


Luis Junqueira (ICS - University of Lisbon)
Ana Delicado (Lisbon University)
Monica Truninger (Institute of Social Sciences University of Lisbon)
Ana Horta (University of Lisbon, Institute of Social Sciences)

Paper long abstract:

Over the last 10 years the controversies around the sitting of renewable energy facilities became a prominent topic of research in STS, in great part due to the fast implementation of these technologies promoted by European governments. However, controversies on the sitting of photovoltaic plants remain quite understudied as most of the research deals with wind power implementation.

Solar energy is generally presented as the most consensual of all the renewable energy sources, lacking some of the local impacts of wind turbines such as noise and bird mortality. Some local controversies are identified, especially on landscape impact, but generally the issues pointed on solar power are those associated with cost and financial support.

This presentation aims to contribute to this discussion drawing on a case study of the 64MW photovoltaic plant installed in Amareleja, in the south of Portugal. The study is based on interviews with local stakeholders and population, analysis of national and local media, and a workshop with stakeholders.

This solar plant is peculiar in having a significant participation from the municipality in its initial stages, despite being a large scale project. The municipality made an effort to guarantee some impact on local socioeconomic development and this is the most salient issue. Local politicians and businessmen and the population share different opinions on which benefits should have been negotiated and their distribution.

The research is based on a project intituled "Sociotechnical consensus and controversies on renewable energy", funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (PTDC/CS-ECS/118877/2010).

Panel L4
Energy controversies and technology conflicts