Are energy megaprojects socially disruptive? Assessing the impacts of the As Pontes fossil fueled power plant in Spain

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  • Xaquin S. Perez-Sindin

In a context of growing freedom in the movement of capital and constant technological advances, energy projects abound in which companies deploy the largest and most efficient technologies to produce electricity. Despite the increased efficiency with respect to labour needs, old and new technologies both require large numbers of workers during the construction period, leading to a situation of potential social and demographic change to nearby communities, which are often located in remote areas and with a low capacity to accommodate waves of rapid population growth. Advances in energy boomtown studies provide a theoretically sophisticated framework for understanding the potential impact of these projects, particularly in terms of drastic population growth and subsequent damage to the social fabric. In this article, I study the social impact of the most prominent energy development of this type in contemporary Spain, the As Pontes fossil fuelled power plant. While data analysis shows mixed evidence of increases in crime, social tensions between different intra-class and inter-class groups extend beyond manufacturing and remain after the production period. More consistent, however, is the evidence of significant increases in social illnesses such as suicides among the young during the closure period. I apply Ruddell and Ray's framework of the boomtown life-course and develop it further by linking it to social capital and rural gentrification theories to improve understanding of the case of As Pontes, while advocating greater attention to the social dimensions of energy megaprojects and the need of innovative strategies of governance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102229
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume80
Number of pages16
ISSN2214-6296
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

    Research areas

  • Boomtown, Crime, Rural gentrification, Social capital, Social impact assessment, Suicide

ID: 285318099