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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #283 - Energy: The Rogue Renewable! (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Tue, 15 May 2018 07:51:19 +0300

Far from being an energy alternative, the government's renewable energy policy only renews capitalism. And arouses specific local opposition. Example of the gigantic project of industrial wind turbines in South-Aveyron. ---- All environmentalists have been advocating renewable energy and energy efficiency for decades. But the way these energies are produced is currently being questioned. Wind farm fields, deep geothermal energy, solar panel farms ... all these systems are built according to the interests of multinational firms. And there is a huge gap between their characteristics and those touted by the state and developers. ---- The way in which the development of renewable energies is organized is difficult to criticize because it is very well supported by public opinion. Nuclear power is a foil. Government communication states that this energy will one day be replaced (or reduced in quantity in the energy mix) by " clean ", " sustainable " and local techniques .

The themes of environmental struggles are called to the rescue to swallow the pill of expensive and polluting imposed facilities. Thus a farm of solar panels or a field of wind turbines becomes a proximity energy. And all this goes very well. We are going to see it, it is only a travesty of reality.

A very distant proximity
The development of renewable energies is currently taking place mainly in large projects, such as a network of 750 wind turbines of 80 meters in Aveyron, or pellet plants, as currently in a village in Limousin, or huge photovoltaic farms. Obviously, neither small communities nor individuals can finance such facilities. These facilities do not produce energy for the local population, but it is the only one to be exposed to nuisances. Energy is converted into profits for multinationals through distribution in a globalized market.

The gigantism of the installations has consequences. Thus, for a wood-fired power station in a city, it will be necessary to bring, by hundreds of trucks, the raw material from distances to the scale of the needs, that is a hundred kilometers around the power station. For a deep geothermal power plant, it will be necessary to look for flows of hot water to 2, 3 or even 5 kilometers underground. To " clean " the cracks of the rock, obviously, the quantities of acid necessary will be gigantic.

Why such gigantism of projects ?
It is also important to look at the set-up of projects: initially, research and development is supported by state budgets, but the exploitation of resources is privatized. Take the emblematic example of the geothermal project in Strasbourg. The permit was obtained by start-up Fonroche on the basis of geological research done by the State. As soon as the drilling permits were obtained, the start-up sees arriving some 400 million euros on its bank account via a European investor. But investors - whose capital is often housed in tax-advantaged or even opaque countries - will only plan to finance the company for five to seven years, ie the upward phase of valuation of its capital. Then, it will be another investor, from who knows where, who will manage the operation. And the day when it will close this operation, the said investor or his distant successor will have folded luggage. And at no time will it be possible to put in place some local control over all these acts. Also, the qualification of proximity energy for these installations raises the scam. And the scale of the installations remains a problem. The techniques developed, very sharp and expensive, make it impossible to control the production of energy by users. Even if it would be possible to collectivize the, perhaps, future 750 wind turbines of Aveyron, that could make the inhabitants, because these are dedicated to the international trade of the energy (with the following infrastructures) and, anyway,

The current logic at work in the development of renewable energies disguises the notion of proximity and in reality is only a policy of capitalist exploitation of resources as part of a colonization of rural territories. Gigantism is necessary for control by capitalism and its profits.

In its February 2018 issue, Alternative Libertaire , echoing the thesis of the environmentalist Denis Hayes formulated in the 1970s, exposed this very important notion for the development of a self-managing and ecological society: " energy is a question of power ". This observation is still valid. But today, let's not be fooled by the copy-pasting that capital uses to exploit and colonize new territories. Proximity is not limited to transforming locally available resources into electricity or heat for global distribution. Talking about proximity also implies direct use of energy by local populations, possibly without transformation into electricity. It is part of other choices of organization of life and work. It emancipates from the " right of ownership " to privilege the " right of use " of the local populations. Obviously it is part of a break with capitalism.

Reinette reinette (AL Aveyron)

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