Solar photovoltaic energy infrastructures, land use and sociocultural context in Portugal

Luís Silva, Siddharth Sareen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
221 Downloads (Pure)


Energy infrastructures co-evolve with and are enacted and acted upon by not only technical but also regulatory and institutional factors, as well as sociocultural contexts. As solar energy plants require access to land and the electric grid, the recent uptick in solar energy infrastructure features interplay with local specificities. This article thus examines the uptake of solar energy in Portugal at both the national and local scales. The purpose is to contribute to a timely debate on critical renewabilities and to provide valuable insights for the future rollout of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Portugal. The study demonstrates that solar energy policy measures not only show some start-stop aspects of the utility-scale solar PV roll-out, but have also tended to favour large companies, rather than community or individual operators. Three case studies point to a range of public attitudes regarding solar PV roll-out and its underlying drivers that are locally influenced by land use and sociocultural contexts, apparently more so than by concerns of low-carbon energy transitions. A key point for future solar energy transitions is, therefore, that local communities’ concerns should be understood and approached cross-sectorally. Furthermore, the intersection of energy transitions and justice must be considered from a multi-scalar, multi-sited and cross-sectoral perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalLocal Environment
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2020


  • energy infrastructures
  • land use
  • Portugal
  • sociocultural context
  • Solar power


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