Rent extraction and the socio-ecological fix in the deployment of wind energy in Oaxaca, Mexico

Authors: Lourdes Alonso Serna*, The University of Manchester
Topics: Political Geography, Land Use, Resources
Keywords: rent, socio-ecological fix, wind energy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Over the last few years, Mexico has created a favourable environment for investors to develop the renewable energy sector. Wind energy was the first one among the renewables to be developed. In 2017 there were 4 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity, and it is expected to reach 12 GW in 2020 (AMDEE, 2018). Oaxaca, located in Southern Mexico, holds 60% of the total installed capacity (2.3 GW) and is expected to reach 5 GW in 2020.

This massive circulation of capital and labour can be considered a socio-ecological fix. Michael Ekers and Scott Prudham re-elaboration of Harvey’s spatial fix is a useful concept to characterise the different forms of valorisation and appropriation of nature through the so-called ‘green economy’. This concept provides insight of ‘how capitalist crises may be temporarily displaced or overcome through the reworking of capital’s circulation in, through and around ecological processes and landscapes, which themselves are always socio-natural in character’ (Ekers & Prudham, 2015: 2439). But the fix also implies new forms of rent extraction, or value grabbing, as Andreucci et al. (2017) characterise it.

This paper builds on the literature of the socio-ecological fix and rent theory to tease out the conflicts for rent redistribution between landlords and wind utilities. It will address the past disputes over land in the region of study and the political arrangements to create private land titles as wind companies arrived in the area. It will also present the different struggles over the local appropriation and distribution of rents.

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