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Wind Theft, Spatial Planning and International Relations.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2010
JournalRenewable Energy Law and Policy Review
Number of pages9
Original languageEnglish


The evolution of renewable energy technologies and the rapid growth in renewable energy facilities are giving rise to a growing number of actual and potential conflicts. This paper explores one particular area of conflict: the access to the resource itself. While conflicts over rights to wind, water or the sun are not without historic precedent, past case law has limited legal relevance in the new era of renewable energy. This paper explores how the development of new technologies, combined with existing governance systems for spatial planning and the management of protected areas, are creating conditions that can lead to scarcity of access to high-yield locations, and thus to resource conflicts over access to the energy flux in solar radiation or the movements of water and air. In Germany, where wind farm zones are strictly controlled, there have already been several lawsuits between different wind farm developers over access rights to the wind. These conflicts highlight the need to develop a governance regime that can strike a balance between the private benefit for developers who want to maximise the energy capture of their device, and the societal benefit of having a high total amount of energy capture. Given the likelihood of continued strong demand for renewable energy and the finite amount of land, sea and air space, we anticipate that these types of conflicts will grow, not only in number, but also in spatial scale, eventually spilling across international boundaries.