Solar energy, innovation and community resilience: the case of Amareleja (Portugal)


The solar photovoltaic power plant of Amareleja in southern Portugal was built in 2008. At the time it was the largest in Europe. This large-scale technological infrastructure triggered an unusual buzz on an otherwise quiet rural municipality of Moura. It inspired triumphant political speeches, national and international news coverage, and many visits by foreign dignitaries. And yet, it was the target of some criticism regarding its costs and the limited impact on the local economy and on jobs creation. Moreover, apart from a dramatic transformation of the rural landscape, this solar power plant also brought multiple scientific and technological innovations (supported by a social fund). This paper offers a preliminary analysis of the public acceptability of this form of
energy production and discusses the extent to which these scientific and technological innovations have impacted on the local identity, development and community resilience in times of crisis. The empirical material draws on a combination of methods: documentary analysis, quantitative analysis of secondary databases, interviews with local stakeholders and ethnographic observation.


Publication associated with Project RENERGY.