Powerscape


2017
Puglia – Campania (IT)
Photographer: Alessandro Guida
Text: Viviana Rubbo

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Powerscape is a journey on the ridges of the sub-Apennine called Daunio in the Apulia region; a route across the most productive wind farms in Italy. Travelling the peaks of Campania and Puglia, you walk the slopes of Faeto, the brown hills of Rocchetta Sant’Antonio, Lacedonia up to Candela. September, the land has been recently plowed and forms a pattern of large dark clumps, black smoke ground and yellow stubble. The rhythm of the blades beats the time and continues hypnotic to the infinity. The border between Campania and Puglia is dotted with flags : lands of conquest. And in fact, it’s not just any place. It is one of the most productive ‘wind mines’.

On the Apulian side, the little village of Faeto (627 ab) and Sant’Agata di Puglia (1959 ab), are among the first ten municipalities, albeit very small, of the great Italian wind power (data from Lega Ambiente 2017 Report, “I comuni rinnovabili”). What does it mean? Puglia contributes significantly with approximately 28.9% of national wind production. In Italy, there are 293 municipalities with large wind farms (made up of towers with powers exceeding 200 kW) that largely exceed the needs of resident families. Of the 334 Italian Municipalities equipped with these plants, the report continues, 7 of those produce between the 99% and 70% of the local needs, another 7 between 69% and 50% and 11 between 49% and 20%. All the rest stays under this threshold. At present in Italy, the so-called municipalities of the wind power reach number 904, 4.5% of the Italian municipalities.  

This is a landscape that raises questions. If on the one hand the imperative is to abandon the fossil fuel and move towards the production of clean energy, on the other hand, for more than two decades now, the lack of national and regional strategies and the absence of careful and forward-looking planning, has tragically transformed the Italian landscape.

In the South of Italy and on the islands, hundreds of wind farms have randomly mushroomed (often becoming rapidly outdated). Private companies have largely exploited the abundant economic incentives to conquer the peaks of hills and mountains in territories that have often seen this rain of funding as a windfall, yet with no consistent benefits for the local communities. The real point is therefore the absence of a policy framework capable of driving the transition by reconciling the need to rethink energy production and fight against climate change, with special attention to the impact on the environment, on agriculture and woodlands.

 “A forest of pipes and shovels, one behind the other, alongside the mountain ridges. The horizon is cut by the propellers, it seems that the earth can take off and all of us, at any moment, head towards the heaven ” wrote Antonello Caporale in 2012 describing the landscape of the small village of Candela.

Only a couple of months ago, an article on Europatoday (26.11.2017) titled “Gone with the wind: the Bei (European Investments Bank) finances 8 wind farms in the central and southern Italy“. New wind farms in the regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, Puglia and Sicily. New towers mean the construction of impressive infrastructures: roads, artefacts, excavations for laying cables, transformer cabins.

We are creating new territories, new productive landscapes. Powerscape wants to promote awareness in the first place. By exploring them and making them known, it urges a reflection on the challenges posed by the energy transition which inevitably transforms our contemporary landscapes.