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Baleia Wind Power Complex in Ceará, Brazil


In 2002 the Federal Gogernment of Brasil created the         Incentive Program of Alternative Sources for Electric Energy, as a crucial part of the so-called (and failed) Accelerated Growth Project (PAC). Since then, the State of Ceará has received great attention as a space to foster the development of alternative sources of energy, and particularly of wind power.  By the year 2010, Ceará was positioned as the state with the highest number of wind farms in the country, encompassing 17 projects with an installed capacity of 500 MW.

  The Baleia Wind Power Complex is intended to continue this growing path. After an auction held in 2013 the project was awarded to Furnas and FIP Caixa Milan, two companies that also won permissions for the construction of seven additional wind farms in Rio Grande do Norte. The Baleia Complex is to be installed in the Itapipoca municipality (north region of Ceara) and is expected to comprise six wind farms through the coastal area of Baleia and Maceió beaches.

  There are at least 110 communities settled along the 573 km of Ceara’s coastline: fisherfolk, indigenous people, quilombolas and farmers and peasants characterized by their sustainable relationship with the ecosystem and biodiversity of the region. Traditional cultures have a strong interaction with land, water, fauna and flora, influencing the life and culture of these groups.

  Communities inhabiting the coastal area where the Complex is to be deployed depend on artisanal fishing and family farming, which would be directly affected by the construction of windmills. Some of these communities are Timbaúba, Córrego da Estrada and Assentamento Maceió (the first agrarian reform settlement in coastal area of ​​Ceará which is now linked to the Movement of Landless Rural Workers MST).  Since the announcement of the Complex construction, local communities started to mobilize with the support of different social movements, networks and non-profit organizations (see actors involved). They wanted to prevent the destruction of the local socio-biodiversity as has happened with other wind farms in Ceará.

  According to a study published by Antonio de Andrade (Department of Geography of the Federal University of Ceará), wind energy production in the state is causing profound negative impacts on the environment.  For the installation of wind turbines several access roads are built over the mobile dunes, affecting lacustrine systems and disrupting the environmental dynamics. This implies a complete morphological disruption because the dunes are losing their natural formation, their mobility, and consequently, they are loosing their function to mitigate erosion. Simultaneously, wind turbines are being deployed in traditional communities usufruct areas and within mangroves. The study also denounces other impacts such as lack of employment and sexual harassment to women by those workers who install the windmills. Air pollution is also registered.

  In order to discuss these impacts, two different seminars organized by organizations and movements were celebrated between 2012 and 2014 (“Seminários Energia Eólica, Injustiça e Conflitos Ambientais nos Territórios Tradicionais e Camponeses”). As a result, a statement letter was published to denounce the responsibility of federal and municipal governments in contributing on the obscure and undemocratic implementation of wind farms. The letter also stated that the official discourse about the benefit of wind farms (such as job creation and “development”) is a fallacy for local communities that are repressed and intimidated. More than 30 associations (including fisherwoman, fisherman and farmers organizations) signed this letter.

  A public hearing on the Baleia Wind Power Complex was held on 26 September 2014 in Itapipoca. According to the blog Combate Racismo Ambiental (11/11/2014), the hearing was marked by a clear position from the company to the communities who attend the event, denying their right to participate and neglecting relevant information of the project. Here communities claimed that the project would negatively affect their productive activities and way of life. They also sustained that the project would demand an excessive amount of water, undermining local consumption and affecting the replenishment of aquifers. Additionally, they claimed the consortium was already deforesting and digging wells in the area although the licensing was still in process. After local representatives gave their declaration (including civil society claims), the consortium participants didn’t sign the document.  Two months later, the environmental study made by Ambientare –Solutions was approved giving license to start the construction of the complex. Although the government gave all its support for the consortium, local communities said they will keep fighting: they are not against technology for wind energy production, but against the ways in which these are being implemented - disrespecting and violating the territorial, political and environmental rights of traditional communities.

(Based on FIOCRUZ Mapa de Conflitos envolvendo Injustiça Ambiental e Saúde no Brasil). 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Baleia Wind Power Complex in Ceará, Brazil
State or province:Ceará
Location of conflict:Itapipoca
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Electricity

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Installed capacity: 109.2 MW

Level of Investment:128,500,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2012
Company names or state enterprises:FURNAS from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Federal Government of Brazil
Secretaria de Meio Ambiente do Ceará
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Rede Brasileira de Justiça Ambiental (RBJA)
-Fórum em Defesa da Zona Costeira Cearense (FDZCC)
-Rede de Educação Ambiental do Litoral Cearense (REALCE)
-Campanha Nacional pela Regularização dos Territórios das Comunidades Tradicionais Pesqueiras
-Rede Nacional de Advogadas e Advogados Populares no Ceará (RENAPCE)
-Rede Estadual de Assessoria Jurídica Universitária (REAJU)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Explicit use of the notion of "environmental racism"


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution
Other Environmental impactsDamage to dunes in the beaches and to lagoons
Health ImpactsPotential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The consortium received the license to start the construction phase of the Complex. Complaints of local communities and other supporting organizations were not considered in the 2014 hearing. The notion of "environmental racism" is explicitly used by the communities.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Carta Denúncia das Comunidades prejudicadas pela implementação do Complexo Eólico Baleia/CE

Combate Racismo Ambiental 11/11/2014

Mapa de Conflictos Envolvendo Injustiça Ambiental e Saúde no Brasil.

Case: Agricultores familiares e pescadores artesanais de Itapipoca lutam por seus direitos territoriais, políticos e ambientais


Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Vídeo Denúncia produzido pelo Instituto Terramar traz depoimentos de representantes de comunidades da zona costeira do Ceará impactadas negativamente pelo avanço da implementação dos parques eólicos. Os relatos nos mostram que embora a energia eólica seja reconhecida como um tipo de “energia limpa” ela chega de forma criminosa para as populações tradicionais.

Meta information

Last update29/03/2017



Community representatives attending the public hearing

Source: Combate Racismo Ambiental

Community representatives attending the public hearing

Source: Combate Racismo Ambiental