Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Excellent wind energy potential in South Dakota is only a start

South Dakota belongs to U.S. states with excellent wind energy potential. In fact, according to the data by the US Department of Energy, South Dakota is the 5th windiest state in country, so harnessing wind energy certainly looks like the most logical idea for the further renewable energy development within the state. After all, the state is said to have 88 percent of land area with high wind power potential

The total wind energy potential estimated for South Dakota is said to be at 3,411,690 gigawatt hours.  The August 2012 report from the U.S. Energy Department says that South Dakota in 2011 had the capacity to generate about 22 percent of its electricity from wind energy, ranking first among all states.“

South Dakota is today, one of the just three U.S. states, in which wind energy provides more than 10 percent of all electricity, together with Iowa and Minnesota.

Wind farms are becoming a common sight across the Mount Rushmore State. Wind energy industry has now become one of the major industries in the state. The rapid wind energy development within the state is not only happening because of excellent wind energy potential, but also because of many scarcely populated areas that make ideal locations for new wind farms. 

Tatanka wind farm. This wind farm in South Dakota could significantly improve its capacity with new transmission lines.

There are still some major challenges on the road to success, the biggest of which is no doubt transmission. New wind energy projects require new transmission lines in order to deliver energy to cities. New transmission lines will be definitely needed in order to realize the total potential of wind power in South Dakota because existing power lines won't be able to handle increasing load for a very long time.

Many new wind energy projects are under construction so the state needs to be aware that new transmission lines will be soon needed. The only problem is that new transmission lines are connected with significant costs but this shouldn't be used as an excuse to this necessary step because wind power gives South Dakota a real chance for clean energy future.

Even the existing wind energy projects could improve their output with new transmission lines, the Tatanka Wind Farm (located near the South Dakota-North Dakota border) could for example triple or even quadruple its production capacity with the proper transmission system.

South Dakota has made an excellent start but there is still long road ahead before the finishing line. The clean energy race is a marathon so making a good start doesn't necessarily make you a winner of the race. The persistence is what pays the most.