According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Arkansas ranks 27th in wind energy potential with an available wind resource of 9,200 megawatts at 80 meters. However the majority of the potential in the state looks as though it is going to remain untapped for some time into the near future.
There are a number of commercial wind developers collecting wind data in Arkansas for potential wind-farm projects. Two of these companies include TradeWind Energy in Benton County and Invenergy LLC in Washington County. A projection has been made by the US Department of Energy that there could be as much as 1,000MW of installed wind capacity in Arkansas by 2030.
Although wind power may not yet be generated within the state lines of Arkansas at this point, that doesn’t mean that electricity sourced from the wind isn’t used. In April 2012, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) announced a long-term purchase power agreement for 51 megawatts of wind energy from the Flat Ridge 2 South Wind Farm in Kansas.
Arkansas is making its contribution to the wind industry with major companies such as LM Wind Power, the world’s leading supplier of rotor blades for wind turbines, based in the state. The German wind turbine components manufacturer Nordex located its North American headquarters in Little Rock in 2008.
Plans were in place by TradeWind Energy to construct the Honey Creek Wind Farm on a location that would straddle the Oklahoma and Arkansas border. The Arkansas section of the wind farm was to be located in Benton County.
According to the 50-meter wind map that has been produced by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (Energy Department’s) Wind Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the wind resources that are produced in the state of Arkansas is suitable for community scale production. Exposed ridges and high terrain provides the best opportunity for any type of wind development, mainly in the western part of the state. The map has been displayed to the right (click to enlarge).
The Ouachita Mountains provide the best opportunity for wind resources to be utilized around the Mena area as well as and the Boston Mountains of northwestern Arkansas.
As far as wind power generation goes, there is more contribution to the creation of wind generated electricity than the mere existence of wind farms. Arkansas is still pulling its weight in the wind industry thanks to the strong components manufacturing industry that has been established.