Determinants of host community responses to wind farms in coastal Ceará, Brazil
The next presentation in the Texas A&M Energy Institute Lecture Series: Master of Science in Energy Webinars, featuring Dr. Christian Brannstrom, a Professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University, will be held on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CST (GMT -6:00) through an online Zoom meeting. The topic will be “Determinants of host community responses to wind farms in coastal Ceará, Brazil.”
The importance of distributive and procedural justice indicators in determining host community responses to utility-scale renewable energy infrastructure is increasingly recognized. There is emerging consensus on the relatively higher explanatory power of process fairness and transparency in predicting acceptance of wind farms. However, most studies reporting on these phenomena quantitatively are focused in North America and Europe. Since 2005, the installed capacity of wind power in Brazil increased from 29 MW to nearly 16 GW, or 9% of the total capacity, in 2020, with expectations for 27 GW by 2027. Here I summarize qualitative findings on host community interactions with wind farms in Brazil, then present results of a face-to-face survey applied to 310 randomly selected heads of household in three communities hosting wind farms. The study communities are located within an emerging cluster of wind power in northeastern Brazil’s Ceará state, where nearly 70% of installed capacity has been built within 5 km of the Atlantic coast. We find high levels of support (~80% of respondents) for wind farms in two host communities with predictive variables associated with procedural and distributive justice concepts. In a third community, high opposition to a proposed wind farm was observed, with support predicted by distributive justice variables. The results suggest uneven patterns of support and opposition owing to land-tenure struggles, levels of internal community organization, and expectations for benefits from wind farms.
Christian Brannstrom is a professor of geography and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Geosciences. He teaches an undergraduate course on the geography of energy, which uses field trips to Sweetwater and Denton, Texas, to illustrate geographical dimensions of wind power and hydraulic fracturing debates. He has edited two books and published articles on historical geography, land-change science, and energy geographies. His research focuses on the social and political aspects of renewable energy and unconventional fossil fuels, with an emphasis on Texas and Brazil. Recently, he has partnered with geographers at the Universidade Federal do Ceará for collaborative research on wind farms in Brazil. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, Texas Sea Grant, the TAMU Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, and Brazilian funding agencies.