Renewable Futures in the Age of Austerity: Extractive Economies and Neo-colonialism in Central Greece 

Daniel Knight

Entering a sixth year of fiscal crisis, the Greek government, supported by the European Union, advocates renewable energy generation and export as a way to repay national debt, decrease deficit and secure the future of the Greek state. This paper explores the impact of multinational investment in photovoltaic (solar) parks on the Plain of Thessaly, central Greece, where many impoverished farmers have ceased crop cultivation in favor of energy production. Yet energy generated on farmland rarely benefits the local community so people have resorted to burning illegally-sourced firewood, furniture and household waste to keep warm, creating toxic smog that has caused serious environmental and public health problems. The fact that solar power is a renewable, inexhaustible

resource might seem to make it impossible to be plundered in the way that finite resources such as timber or oil might be, but for people in central Greece, living with the consequences of internationally-enforced fiscal austerity, renewable energy projects are experienced as new forms of extractive economy, harnessing local natural resources for the benefit of foreign corporations.