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Sun, Wind and the Rebirth of Extractive Economies: Renewable energy investment and metanarratives of crisis in Greece
Entering a sixth year of fiscal crisis, the Greek government, supported by the European Union, advocates renewable energy generation and export as a way to repay national debt, decrease deficit and secure the future of the Greek state. This paper explores the impact of multinational investment in photovoltaic (solar) parks on the Plain of Thessaly, central Greece, where many impoverished farmers have ceased crop cultivation in favor of energy production.
Yet energy generated on farmland rarely benefits the local community so people have resorted to burning illegally-sourced firewood, furniture and household waste to keep warm, creating toxic smog that hascaused serious environmental and public health problems. The fact that solar power is a renewable, inexhaustible resource might seem to make it impossible to be plundered in the waythat finite resources such as timber or oil might be, but forpeople in central Greece, living with the consequences of internationally-enforced fiscal austerity, renewable energy projects are experienced as new forms of extractive economy, harnessing local natural resources for the benefit of foreign corporations.
Daniel M. Knight is an Addison Wheeler Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University and Visiting Fellow at the Hellenic Observatory, London School of Economics and Political Science. He is author of History, time, and economic crisis in central Greece (Palgrave, 2015), has written numerous articles on everyday experiences of fiscal austerity in Greece, and is Associate Editor of History and Anthropology journal. Daniel has received EPSRC and Leverhulme grants for projects on renewable energy and sustainable economic development in Greece and Turkey.
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