Tilting at ‘Nuclearmills’? Wind Energy, Grassroots Networks and Technologies of Protest in Spain, 1976–1984

Jaume Valentines-Álvarez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In 1975, the death of dictator Francisco Franco opened the door to a turbulent period known as the “Spanish Transition.” In the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, national politics, political violence and social demands were interwoven with international shifts in science and technology and global debates on “energy transitions.” In close dialogue with foreign environmental groups, the anti-nuclear movement in Spain deployed a large repertoire of collective action; it ranged from pleasant activities to violent direct actions against nuclear technologies, but also included the making of technological alternatives. Counter-culture activists and counter-experts opposed nuclear energy and promoted renewable energy as two sides of the same coin. This paper explores the pioneering (and networked) initiatives of an anarchist-oriented group called Self-Managed Radical Alternative Technologies, created in 1976, and a group of young engineers who founded the cooperative Ecotècnia, which was behind the construction of the first commercial wind turbine in Catalonia in 1984. The paper focuses on the transnational circulation of grassroots knowledge, the epistemics of resistance, and the development of wind energy technologies as “technologies of protest.” Technologies of protest illuminate how the social construction of technology is intertwined with what I call the “social destruction of technology.”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-344
Number of pages34
JournalNTM International Journal of History and Ethics of Natural Sciences, Technology and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2022


  • Alternative technology
  • Anti-nuclear movement
  • Counter-culture
  • Renewable energy transitions
  • Social destruction of technology


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