Socio-environmental impacts of wind farms on the traditional communities of the western coast of Ceará, in the Brazilian Northeast

Autor(es): Antonio Jeovah de Andrade Meireles, Adryane Gorayeb, Débora Raquel Freitas da Silva, Gledson Santos de Lima

Resumo: The global expansion of wind power has resulted from the development of scientific research that aims to establish an energy network which minimizes the emission of pollutants derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. Ceará, in the Brazilian Northeast, has a considerable potential for the generation of environment-friendly power, due to the occurrence of strong winds on many parts of the coast and at higher elevations. Given this, the present study aimed to evaluate the socio-environmental damage caused by the installation of a wind farm on the coastal plain of the municipality of Camocim, on the western coast of the state, and to identify the consequences for the coastal environment and the traditional community of Xavier, which survives primarily on fishing, agriculture, and the extraction of natural resources. The study was based on the recognition and definition of the environmental components study area is characterized by mangrove ecosystems, dune fields, interdunal lakes, fluvial-lacustrine coastal plains, and a sandy beach. The integration of these different environments underpins the traditional lifestyle of the local community, which is based primarily on the exploitation of natural resources. Given this, the community of Xavier, which is made up of 20 families, was affected directly by the installation and subsequent operation of the local wind farm (one of the largest in the Brazilian Northeast, with 50 wind turbines generating a maximum output of 104.4 MW,and approximately 135 km of transmission lines) through (1) the gratuitous occupation of a significant portion of the burying of interdunal lakes, (5) disturbance of the margins of fluvial-lacustrine systems, (6) compaction and impermeabilization of the soil, and (7) artificial retention of mobile dunes. These findings indicate that the licensing of wind farms in the state ignores a set of socio-environmental principles. The results of this analysis indicate the need for a regional blueprint for the development of effective socio-environmental policies for the sustainable exploitation of the coastline of the Brazilian Northeast, and in particular for the definition of the sectors most appropriate for the installation of wind farms, such as the coastal plains, which have been classified as the alternative sites with the best potential, as long as effective licensing measures are implemented.