SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Arkansas Wind Energy
New wind turbine technology is a game changer for clean energy opportunities in Arkansas. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in generating more electricity and reducing costs. In just five years, wind turbines have greatly evolved and are now more suitable for the South. One modern wind turbine can now power the equivalent of about 600 homes a year!
New wind speed maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind turbine development in Arkansas with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height and are able to access better wind speeds, more areas become attractive for wind energy development within Arkansas. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 182,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exist in Arkansas. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Arkansas (just 0.5% of the state’s total potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!
Based on the Jobs and Economic Development Index model, developed by NREL, developing one gigawatt worth of wind energy capacity in Arkansas could support approximately 163 ongoing operation jobs with a total annual payroll of $7.7 million. Dragonfly Industries, a Houston-based wind farm developer, has proposed a new wind farm near Springdale, which could be the first wind farm in the state. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a high voltage direct current (HVDC) wind power transmission line that is currently in the permitting phase, could provide up to 500 megawatts of high quality, low cost wind power to Arkansas from western Oklahoma and Texas.
Although Arkansas has yet to develop a wind farm, the state is already benefiting from the wind industry. At the end of 2014, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) announced the decision to purchase up to 150 MW of wind energy from Oklahoma. With this new power purchase agreement, AECC will have a combined total of 309 MW of wind delivered to Arkansas due the extremely low cost of wind energy.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, Arkansas is also currently home to approximately 5 wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were between 101 and 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Arkansas. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs. A few of the wind energy-related manufacturing facilities in Arkansas include:
- LM Wind Power (Little Rock, AR) is a global wind turbine blade manufacturer. LM wind power has facilities all over the world, with the Little Rock site operating as a blade manufacturing and sales office.
- PPG Industries (Alexander, AR) specializes in supplying fiber glass and coatings, which are key products needed for a wind turbine to operate. The facility in Alexander employs approximately 147 people.