In most of the world, wind and solar power are now the cheapest new sources of electricity. But despite this remarkable fact, major obstacles to greening up our energy systems remain. Even as polls consistently find high public support for renewable energy, many people still balk at the idea of constructing these projects in their neighborhoods.
Wind and solar farms take up much more space than the fossil-fueled power plants they will replace. While a natural gas-fired power plant might take up one city block, for example, generating the same amount of power with wind turbines could span 13 square miles. Not everyone is ready to welcome this intrusion on the landscape. Around the U.S., in upstate New York and rural Michigan, communities are rising up to oppose the construction of renewable energy on their fields and hills, threatening to derail climate action.
To better understand this resistance, David Hughes, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and a staunch wind advocate, looked to Spain. Wind development got a head start in the country in the late 1990s due to favorable policy and a burgeoning wind turbine manufacturing industry. Today, wind generate... Read more