Contesting renewable energy in the global south: A case-study of local opposition to a wind power project in the Western Ghats of India

Lakhanpal, Shikha (2019) Contesting renewable energy in the global south: A case-study of local opposition to a wind power project in the Western Ghats of India. Environmental Development. (In Press)

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Abstract

Influenced by global concerns around climate change mitigation, reduction in carbon emissions and energy security, countries are increasingly focussing on increasing the share of renewable energy. Various national and provincial level authorities are aggressively promoting renewable energy expansion, resulting in new geographies of renewable energy. The expansion of renewable energy, particularly large-scale projects, is contingent upon access to natural resources. However, areas that have high natural resource endowment for renewable energy, often have other overlapping uses of natural resources, including livelihoods and biodiversity. And renewable energy projects located in these areas compete with these other multiple uses of natural resources, often leading to unintended consequences. This study employs ethnographic methods to analyse the case of local opposition to a 113 MW wind power project, located in the Western Ghats of India. India, an emerging economy, is the fourth largest producer of wind energy worldwide and is expanding the share of renewable energy through national as well as provincial level policies. The Western Ghats are a designated UNESCO world heritage site for their exceptional biodiversity and the wind power project conflicted with natural resource-based livelihoods of indigenous populations and threatened their subsistence agricultural practices along with posing a threat to the ecology of the landscape. As a result, local activists protested against the wind power project and this contestation was animated and influenced by a variety of public, civic and private actors and institutions across scale. This paper uses insights from political ecology and energy geography to shed light on the interaction between these multiple actors and how this interaction mediated the contestations around renewable energy. It focuses on the micropolitics of this contestation to highlight the social and political processes that underpin the transition to sustainable energy. It sheds light on local struggles and contestations around renewable energy projects in conjunction with national and global commitments and shows how contestations around renewable energy in the Global South are distinct from the largely prevalent NIMBY approaches in the developed countries. This study contributes to global debates around governing renewable energy, particularly in developing countries.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier
Uncontrolled Keywords: • Large-scale renewable energy projects can give rise to contestations when they compete with multiple uses of natural resources. • Contestations around renewable energy are mediated by interactions between various public, private and civic actors located across scale. • Renewable energy projects should be brought under social and environmental impact assessment and local populations should be given greater bargaining powers.
Subjects: C Publications by ATREEians > G Journal Papers
Divisions: Publications by ATREEians > Journal Papers
Depositing User: Eprints Admin
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2019 06:54
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2019 06:54
URI: http://eprints.atree.org/id/eprint/589

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