Wind Energy Subsidies Pose Opportunity for Corruption

Flickr/phault (Creative Commons)

The powerful gusts of air that draw the world’s best windsurfers to the coastal town of Santa Lucia Tirajana, Spain, also drew the attention of the community’s most corrupt local politicians and businessmen, the New York Times reports. There were municipal plans to build wind turbines just off the coast of the town, waters that are currently home to an annual windsurfing competition. But a yearlong investigation by Spanish police showing abnormalities in the new turbines’ financing led to the mayor, five town officials, and two developers being charged with peddling, misuse of public office, and bribery.

Wind energy and other renewable energy technologies may have an eco-friendly image, and have been central at this week’s climate change talks in Copenhagen, but they perpetuate another type of green, too. In Europe, subsidies topping 40 million Euro have been allocated for wind farm investment. And Spain is not the only nation dealing with cases of windy fraud. Though authorities say it is impossible to know the extent of fraud in public spending on wind energy, the Times reports that there have been numerous recent investigations throughout Europe. This year, five Corsican nationalists were jailed and fined for embezzling 1.54 million Euro in wind farm subsidies. In Italy, three other investigations of wind subsidy fraud are underway, including one officials have dubbed “Gone With the Wind.”



Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.