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Wind Farm Siting and Protected Areas in Catalonia: Planning Alternatives or Reproducing 'One-Dimensional Thinking'?

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  • Pere Ariza-Montobbio

    ()
    (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Edifici C Campus de la UAB, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona, Spain)

  • Katharine N. Farrell

    ()
    (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Edifici C Campus de la UAB, 08193 Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès), Barcelona, Spain
    Division of Resource Economics, Department of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Unter den Linden, 6 10099, Berlin, Germany)

Abstract

Wind energy is an emblem of sustainability with the potential to promote a qualitative alternative to current energy systems and nuclear options for CO 2 reduction. However, wind farm siting often conflicts with aspirations to conserve traditional landscapes and wildlife habitats. In this paper we adopt a Critical Theory perspective, informed by Herbert Marcuse`s work, to study the discourse concerning wind energy siting in Catalonia, Spain. We give particular attention to how tensions between potentially conflicting sustainability objectives are addressed and by whom. Based on a review of this siting discourse and the application of Marcuse’s theory, we find that the Catalan wind energy siting discourse is both influenced by and reproducing what Marcuse referred to as the ‘one-dimensional thinking’ of technology as ideology: erasing the possibility of critical dialectical thought by subsuming the question of “what should be” under the question of “what is”. This has implications both for how these conflicts are investigated and for the sustainability of decisions taken. We conclude that closer attention to the role of ‘one-dimensional thinking’ in wind energy siting discourses could improve not only the understanding of their logic but might also have the potential to help make them more democratic.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 12 (November)
Pages: 3180-3205

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Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:12:p:3180-3205:d:21696

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Related research

Keywords: wind energy; protected areas; one-dimensional thinking; wicked problems; discourse analysis; post-normal science;

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  1. Charles Warren & Carolyn Lumsden & Simone O'Dowd & Richard Birnie, 2005. "'Green On Green': Public perceptions of wind power in Scotland and Ireland," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(6), pages 853-875.
  2. Christos Zografos & Joan Mart�nez-Alier, 2009. "The politics of landscape value: a case study of wind farm conflict in rural Catalonia," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 41(7), pages 1726-1744, July.
  3. Funtowicz, Silvio O. & Ravetz, Jerome R., 1994. "The worth of a songbird: ecological economics as a post-normal science," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 197-207, August.
  4. Alanne, Kari & Saari, Arto, 2006. "Distributed energy generation and sustainable development," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 539-558, December.
  5. Sarah Mander, 2008. "The role of discourse coalitions in planning for renewable energy: a case study of wind-energy deployment," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 26(3), pages 583-600, June.
  6. Wolsink, Maarten, 2007. "Planning of renewables schemes: Deliberative and fair decision-making on landscape issues instead of reproachful accusations of non-cooperation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2692-2704, May.
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