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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #297 - Solar energy: Industry is devouring farmland (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 23 Sep 2019 08:52:15 +0300

The current development in France of solar photovoltaic is part of several logic. Among these, the construction of "solar power plants" capturing hundreds of hectares of agricultural land, is marked by this productivist drift that ignores the demands and needs of local populations and triggers broad oppositions in the territories concerned. --- Over a period of six years, an area corresponding to that of a French department is "artificialized" (concreted or asphalted), to build roads, industrial areas, subdivisions and other extensions of cities, to the detriment of agricultural land. ---- Photovoltaics has long been confined to roofing projects. The use of land in general and agricultural land in particular was not open to him, in application of the principle: no influence on agricultural land. This scheme is changing. The renewable energy sector is becoming one of the big predators of space.

The projects that come from the communities, often village, rather take the direction of the consultation on the use or the reuse of wastelands, quarries and other lands devastated by the economic activity on the localities. These lands often unsuitable for any human activity find a new productive utility in the absence of a solution of depollution and reconversion.

Villages that invest in the solar.
The project often put forward is that of Ungersheim in Alsace [1]on an old potash mine. But other projects are developing like the one that will see the day in Saint-Georges-de-Luzençon (Aveyron), in an old quarry.

At the level of the village community, the most successful projects stem from consultation processes with residents. Local energy needs and the local distribution of energy can be taken into account. There remains the question of pollution related to former industrial activities. However, these projects generally do not call into question the capitalist logic of general increase in needs, or reflect on the issue of energy sobriety and the long-term viability of projects.

In any case, these projects remain local and most often rural. And for the capitalists it is a matter of "developing France", and that is a matter of industrialists and "specialists".

When the capitalists seize the solar
Initially, industrial projects were set up on motorway interchanges or on abandoned land in the middle of new business or office zones. But today comes the big land projects. Given the disparity of agricultural land, those that are less profitable for agro-industry are the first targets.

We will have the opportunity to return to Alternative libertaire on the 2,000-hectare photovoltaic project in the Landes, the largest project planned in Europe, straddling several municipalities.

Let'sfocus here on Arkolia's " Solarzac" project: a 180-megawatt plant installed on 400 hectares in South Larzac. The land is an old private hunt, although classified in agricultural land. So there is room, sun and few inhabitants.

The " Solarzac " project is also a metanation plant that is a process of creating methane from water and CO2, a technology that is still experimental and that, on its own, will consume half of the sector's water resources. [2]. Ecological associations have entered the struggle since the announcement of the project. They defend wildlife, especially raptors, and are worried about the size of the project.

Competition between food and energy
The peasant Confederation quickly registered in the opposition to the project, especially around the refusal of the predation of agricultural land by the energy producers. But it also challenges the logic of making energy production a complementary income for peasants. We can see it with wind turbines, photovoltaic hangars or methanation plants.

Because today, to compete with food and electricity is dangerous for the peasantry. Also, the fight of the peasant Confederation is to maintain farms of small and medium size by ensuring a fair remuneration of the agricultural productions. All the reverse of the Arkolia project that threatens, eventually, the whole Larzac.

Another actor who invites himself into the struggle is the Amassada [3]. The Zad is fighting against the mega-transformer Saint-Victor-et-Melvieu especially because the energy produced locally, far from providing neighboring municipalities, aims to be transformed into very high voltage for export. This transformer is essential to the " Solarzac " project ", As the massive implantation of wind turbines in Aveyron. We must therefore prevent its construction, keystone of land grabbing and artificialization. It is in this sense that the various players of the fight were invited June 19 in the premises of Arkolia near Montpellier. This action marked the entry of the peasant Confederation in the fight against large energy installations [4].

The state pretends to reject these industrial proposals for the moment. But the perpetual injunctions to an accelerated energetic transition could allow the energeticians to force the lock. The alliance under construction of different local struggles is a carrier of strengthening their common struggle. Let's bet that it pays off.

Naughty Reinette (UCL Aveyron)

[1] For more details, consult the website of the Ungersheim Town Hall, heading " village in transition ".

[2] " Larzac rises against a giant solar power project " on Reporterre.net.

[3] Occupation in South Aveyron of the construction site of a mega transformer.

[4] " Against land grabbing, peasants have occupied the company Arkolia " on Reporterre.net

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