The northern trade winds of the Canary Islands have long tempted daredevil windsurfers, but now the gusts rising up to 60 kilometers per hour are attracting giant wind turbines and the millions of euros behind them. With their blades whirling, the 55 turbines that stand beyond the gray pebble beach of Pozo Izquierdo are stark, white symbols of a growing industry and the potential for abundant clean energy — and corruption.
The town of Santa Lucía Tirajana was struck this year with gale force. A yearlong investigation by the Guardia Civil turned up irregularities in a plan to build a new wind park. Now the mayor, five town officials and two wind park developers are fighting criminal charges that include influence peddling, misuse of public office, misappropriation of land and bribery. The motivation? Up to €40 million in European Union subsidies.
This investigation and others taking place in Europe shed light on the sometimes freewheeling approach of the fast-evolving wind energy industry. With more than €6 billion in structural and agricultural subsidies allocated for renewable energy over a 13-year period ending in 2013, this is an attractive sum for a relatively new industry that experts say gets the benefit of the doubt because it has an eco-friendly image that seems above political reproach. Read full article in International Herald Tribune...
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