The Sustainable Development Reserve of Ponta do Tubarão in Brazil was created in 2003. It was created as an aim of protecting the environment from different attempts to develop the area into a tourist resort or simple shrimp hatcheries along the mangroves. The SDR-PT covers about 12,940 sq ft of the areas off the northern coast of Rio Grande do Norte in the Guamaré and Macau Municipalities. This area is considered a high-value biological region in Brazil, with only little artisanal fishing and collecting shellfish, small scale agriculture, and animal farming. Since 2010 two wind turbine projects started operating in the area, known as Missaba II and Alegria II. The documentation of land operations has been in the works for more than a decade, and inhabitants of the area are claiming that the windmills have created water scarcity as the ponds are now dry. Other issues to the area include, the wall and line towers constructed disrupt the hydrological connection between rivers and the ocean which inherently affects the fisherman and alters water sands. Inhabitants in the area say that noise and vibrations from the wind turbines have affected animals and birds in the area that have migrated elsewhere. The council from the reserve says that part of the Missaba was built inside turtle nesting areas. Fishermen who live in the area were said to have received compensation for their interruptions, but according to sources they haven't. This project is an interesting situation as wind turbines are seen as good for the environment, yet they are destroying the area and making it inhabitable for most organisms in Ponta do Tubarão in Brazil.


The Incentive Program for Alternative Energy Sources- PROFINA, reinforced by the Energy Development Account increased “participation of independent electrical power producers using renewable sources.” The states of Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará received 87% of these developments. This is influenced by the Brazilian energy crisis of 2001.  The first wind farm in Rio Grande do Norte was built in 2004 in line with the nation's support and increase in renewable energy sources. Missaba II was revealed as a project in 2009 by the Bioenergy Group. The land in the Macau Municipality, part of the RDSEPT was auctioned off by the government in 2010. The other wind farm part of this discussion is in the area of Guamaré, referred to as Alegria II. Parque Alegria is owned by New Energy Options Geração de Energia. Alegria I went into operation in 2011. Alegria I has a direct effect on RDSEPT. Building was delayed due to land conflict, as Bioenergy received approval for the usage of the same land for MiassabaIII. The construction of Alegria I consequently started three months later than planned. For the construction of the wind farms infrastructure of the RDSEPT had to be changed. In order to build roads and facilitate the construction lagoons were dried out, sandbanks in upward slopes were erected, this inhibited locals, especially fisherman from living and working. It also interfered with the reserve's ecosystem.

Approval Process

New developments in the area, which has been designated a reserve area in 2003 are supposed to only be conducted after the Management Council approved of it. The Management Council is composed of various entities in the reserve area. According to Bioenergy, Miassaba II underwent this process and received approval. Fishermen and locals contradict these claims. According to documents and points of the Management Council for the Ponta do Tubarão Sustainable Development Reserve (RDSEPT) parts of Miassaba II would be in the sea turtle spawning zone, which would infringe on the approval of the construction, in theory.


Traditional communities

The population in Ponta do Tubarão consists largely of low-income individuals who live on a subsistence economy based on artisanal fishing, collection of crustaceous, small-scale agriculture and herding, and communitarian tourism. The traditional community depends largely on natural  resources, of which they possess a deep knowledge of due to the fact that they have occupied the area for generations. However, their knowledge is limited to how the local environment assists their socioeconomic activities, making them easy targets to the detrimental actions of the government and companies who own the wind farms. The implementation of  the sustainable reserve itself has also been a concept that the population grappled with. Individuals lack the ability to correlate the reserve to an improvement to their quality of life, indicating that the benefits and real objectives of the reserve must be clarified to the community. Furthermore, locals have not received any form of compensation for the negative impacts that the wind farms have had on their lives, and still wait for the job opportunities claimed to be created.

Local Scientists/Professionals Opinions

Scientists and university professors from neighboring states that face the same issues, argue that the sustainability of the reserve and the wind farms is challenged by the fact that damnifications caused in the construction and operation of the wind mills are far greater to the environment and the local population than any potential environmental benefit. They claim that  the wind farms are considered environmentally clean because they did not generate any CO2 during construction, but in reality dunes were destroyed, trees were cut down, and lagoons were drained to make place for the wind mills. This poses an immense threat to the subsistence economy of local communities, which depend on the dunes, trees, and lagoons for their activities. The implementation of the reserve has also posed a challenge to the survival of these communities since it prohibits them from keeping their businesses as usual, and does not decrease their costs with energy since all of the power generated is directed to other areas of the state.


Institute of Sustainable Development and Environment of Rio Grande do Norte (Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável e Meio Ambiente do Rio Grande do Norte)

The  institute's goal is to promote environmental politics in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, and ensure that sustainable developments are done for the improvement of the quality of life  of the regional population. However, IDEMA has always worked to overcome any opposition to the wind mill projects, due to the heightened demand for wind power and strong support from the state and federal government. The institute's actions were explained as an attempt to meet Kyoto Protocol guidelines, but there were not mandatory targets for the country, nor were there any relations between the implementation of wind farms and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that they needed to meet. IDEMA was pressured to expedite the projects, disregarding the social and environmental disruptions that they posed to the local communities.


New Energy Options Geração de Energia

NEO is a Brazilian private entity that operates in the energy sector.  It is regulated by the National Agency of Electric Energy (ANEEL), which is under the Ministry of Mines and Energy,  a government agency. The company owns several wind farms in Rio Grande Norte and has received vast support from the federal government as well as financial institutions, with investments of over R$4.1 billion, approximately US$1 billion. The promise of creation of jobs and cheaper energy has been a major driver for the support of these agencies and the government, despite the negative impacts they have had.


The area has faced conflict between the fishermen and local residents and businesses and bigger businesses before the creation of the reserve area. Initially, the main parties of conflict were locals and big business in forms of hotels and shrimp farmers. However, after the auctioning of land by the state the situation has shifted. The state has been auctioning land off on the reserve area, which then led to some of the wind farms being built. This inhibits fishermen from accessing parts of the beach and disrupts the ecosystem of the reserve area. Part of the conflict or controversy is that the projects are deemed legal by the state, as one they are sustainable in the sense that they are wind farms and deemed sustainable by the national government, as well as the fact that the law establishing the reserve states nothing about this sort of development specifically. The state is allowed to auction off land. The point of conflict is the Management Council's approval or lack thereof. Alegria II and Miassaba II constrict the reserve. The construction pumped out water of lagoons and interrupted the existing ecosystem in the reserve, that should be preserved, residents claim.Residents stated that wind energy companies used the pretext of clean and renewable energy to destroy the ecosystem in the reserve, by pumping out lagoons and dry lakes, deforestation and landing dunes.Energy companies state that they compensated locals for the damage caused, which is negated by residents of the reserve. Another point of controversy is the cost of wind energy for producing states, who do not benefit from the wind production as they still have to pay the same price for energy as other non producing states. The wind farms are altering the people's way of life and the actual land and ecosystem in a reserve area. The establishment of the RDSEPT was done to protect precisely these two aspects, which is why residents received backing from some news sources and other organizations.


Wind energy was made a priority as early as 2001, but more so in 2011, and as much funding as R$8 bi went into wind energy. Bioenergy, the corporation which owns Miassaba II and another farm Aratua I recorded that both projects were financed by the National Bank for Economic and Social Development, and are estimated at $65 million. Alegria I cost approximately R$330 million, of which 250 million were financed by Banco do Nordeste.

Loss of Traditional Practices and Culture

The local community largely relies on the natural resources that can be found within the area. This includes fish and other water resources. They possess an in-depth knowledge of these resources and the land as a result occupying the area for generations and using them in all aspects of life. Since the local environment assists their socioeconomic activities, the actions taken to construct the windmill farm have destroyed the mentioned local resources and have created detrimental and long lasting impacts on their knowledge and practices.

Loss of Livelihood

Ponta do Tubarão is composed of many low-income individuals. These individuals rely on an economy based on artisanal fishing, collection of crustaceous, small-scale agriculture and herding, and communitarian tourism.  By destroying the land and making room for windmills, their livelihoods have been ruined as they no longer can fish in these areas. As part of the negotiations to build the wind farm, fishermen who live in the area were promised forms of compensation. However, many locals have not received any form of compensation and as a result, are out of work and struggling to survive in the current economic conditions.

Loss of Landscape

The landscape in Ponta do Tubarão has suffered as a result of the wind farm construction. Dunes were destroyed, trees were cut down, lagoons were drained to make place for the wind mills, mangroves were buried, and archeological sites in the area faced damage. Since the economy is driven by fishing and other small scale agriculture, this loss of landscape impacted a large scale of activities.

Biodiversity Loss

To install the wind turbines, the sea stretch required sanding. This caused a reduction of sea life in the area.  Noise and vibrations from the wind turbines have also affected the animals and birds in the area and contributed to a migration elsewhere. According to one of the councils on the reserve project, part of the wind farm was constructed inside turtle nesting areas. Since the turtles no longer have an area to next, they have left the area.

Reduced Ecological / Hydrological Connectivity

Other issues that the area now faces includes hydrological connectivity disruption. The wall and line towers constructed disrupt the hydrological connection between rivers and the ocean. As a result of this, fisherman are affected and the sands within the water have been altered.

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal #7: Affordable and Clean Energy

The purpose of the Wind Farms in Ponta do Tubarão were to create clean energy. Across the globe, many are switching to renewable energy and since 2010, the absolute level of renewable energy consumption has increased by more than 18%. The wind farms in Ponta do Tubarão were installed with this in mind and had the intention of provided a clean source of energy and new jobs, even though this has not proven to be the case so far.

Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

The wind farms in Ponta do Tubarão have not fulfilled development goal #8. The aim of this goal is to stimulate economic performance and lower the unemployment rate, but the wind farms seem to have done the opposite. By destroying the land and driving away the fish, fishermen are out of jobs. They were promised compensation or jobs on the wind farm, but have not received any money and the turbines do not need as much labor as predicted once they are up and running. They are out of work and are suffering economic consequences.The local environment heavily assists their socioeconomic activities, and since the environment is not able to sustain the level of activity it once could, there has been a loss of economic productivity.

Goal #15: Life on Land

The wind farms in Ponta do Tubarão have failed to satisfy sustainable development goal #15. This goal aims to protect terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity. As previously mentioned, there has been a loss of landscape and biodiversity as a result of the wind turbines. Animal habitats were destroyed to make room for the construction, and the other animals were driven away due to noise disruptions. In order to ensure sustainability for the future, biodiversity areas need to be protected and not destroyed.

Key Terms

Wind power

“Wind power is the use of wind to provide the mechanical power through wind turbines to turn electric generators and traditionally to do other work, like milling or pumping. Wind power is a sustainable and renewable energy, and has a much smaller impact on the environment compared to burning fossil fuels”

Energy efficiency

Wind power is a cheaper source of power compared to coal and gas plants. It provides a fairly consistent amount of energy year to year, and only variates in short periods of time.

Fossil Fuels

A fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon-to-hydrogen ratios (like methane), to liquids (like petroleum), to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal.”

Climate Justice  

A term used for framing global warming as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature. This is done by relating the effects of climate change to concepts of justice, particularly environmental justice and social justice and by examining issues such as equality, human rights, collective rights, and the historical responsibilities for climate change. A fundamental proposition of climate justice is that those who are least responsible for climate change suffer its gravest consequences

Noise Pollution

The propagation of noise with harmful impact on the activity of human or animal life. The source of outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines, transport, and propagation systems.Poor urban planning may give rise to noise disintegration or pollution, side-by-side industrial and residential buildings can result in noise pollution in the residential areas

Other Wind Projects in Brazil

Wind projects in other municipalities, such as Ceará, faced similar controversy with local populations. In the case of Ceará job promises far exceeded the reality leaving the residents without proper compensation for the intrusion and change that came with the construction and maintenance of the wind farms. The wind farms in Galinhos, also in the northeast of Brazil, caused changes in the fauna in the area, as well as the lagoons, thus altering the ecosystem and the people's way of life and income.



{{DEFAULTSORT:Wind Farms in the Sustainable Reserve of Ponta do Tubarao Category:Wind power Category:Energy in Brazil