The Rise Of Wind Power In Oklahoma: A Clean Energy Revolution

by | Apr 25, 2024 | Renewable Energy, Wind Energy

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As Oklahomans travel north and south on Interstate 35 and west on Interstate 40, they cannot miss the towering white windmill-like machines known as wind turbines, crowded against the topography and set deep in the sunset. What a wonderful sight to see these gigantic machines operating wind power in Oklahoma to provide clean, natural power for thousands of Oklahoma homes, businesses, and sites across the United States.

Why Does Oklahoma Have So Many Wind Turbines?

Oklahoma’s prominence in the wind energy sector is due to a combination of geographical, economic, and policy factors that make it an ideal location for wind turbine installations. Here’s a breakdown of why Oklahoma has so many wind turbines:

1. Geographical Advantages

  • Ideal Wind Conditions: Oklahoma is part of the Great Plains, which is known for its strong and consistent wind patterns. This region is one of the windiest in the United States, making it highly suitable for generating wind power.
  • Flat Terrain: The state’s largely flat terrain facilitates the installation and maintenance of wind turbines, allowing for larger installations and easier access compared to more mountainous or densely forested areas.

2. Economic Incentives

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Wind power has become one of the most cost-effective sources of energy in Oklahoma, thanks in part to technological advancements and economies of scale. The decreasing cost of wind technology makes it a competitive alternative to fossil fuels.
  • Job Creation and Investment: The wind energy industry has created numerous jobs in Oklahoma, especially in rural areas where economic opportunities are often limited. It has attracted significant investment both from within the U.S. and internationally, boosting the local economy.
  • Improving Infrastructure: Oklahoma has invested in improving its energy infrastructure, including the development of transmission lines that can distribute wind-generated electricity from rural areas to major consumption centres. This has enabled more effective use and export of wind energy

3. Supportive State Policies

  • Renewable Energy Targets: Oklahoma has historically supported renewable energy through incentives and policies that encourage the development of wind power. While there are no mandatory renewable portfolio standards in Oklahoma, the state government has implemented other policies that facilitate the growth of the wind industry.
  • Tax Incentives: Oklahoma has offered tax incentives to wind energy producers, which have further stimulated the growth of wind projects across the state. These incentives have made large-scale wind farms financially viable.
  • Utility Buy-in: Major utilities in Oklahoma have been supportive of integrating wind energy into their portfolios due to its cost-effectiveness and the demand from consumers for cleaner energy sources.

4. Environmental Commitment

  • Carbon Emission Reduction Goals: Like many other states, Oklahoma is working to reduce its carbon emissions. Investing in wind energy is part of the state’s strategy to decrease reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal and natural gas, which have traditionally dominated the state’s energy landscape.

Together, these factors contribute to why Oklahoma has become a hub for wind energy production in the United States, reflecting a broader trend towards renewable energy across the country.

Also Read: Wind Power: Pros And Cons

About the Oklahoma Wind Energy Industry

According to Mark Yates, vice president of the Advanced Power Alliance (APA) and Oklahoma’s policy director, wind farm development began in 2003. “Before 2003, the wind coalition (now the APA) existed but did not have a significant presence in Oklahoma.” At the time, Governor Frank Keating advocated for the diversification of Oklahoma’s energy sector to insulate the US from the oil and gas industry’s boom/bust cycle. During the same period, our neighbouring states of Texas and Kansas began to see expansion in the sector, prompting the question, “Why not Oklahoma?

The Rise Of Wind Power In Oklahoma: A Clean Energy Revolution

Since then, the wind power Oklahoma business has steadily grown, becoming one of the state’s top industries. This is a testament to our state’s ingenuity and commitment to a sustainable future. Wind power Oklahoma currently ranks second in the United States for wind power resources, accounting for 40.2% of total Oklahoma electricity generation in 2019, and third in the United States for installed wind capacity.

To date, more than $20 billion has been invested in wind power in Oklahoma. Over $100 million in ad valorem taxes is paid out annually from the $20 billion investment, and more than $52 million in land leases is paid to farmers and ranchers each year, with lease durations ranging from 20 to 40 years.

Oklahoma’s Wind Energy Generation (GWh, Million kWh)

Year Total Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2003 54 54
2004 574 45 46 54 49 77 38 39 38 48 41 41 58
2005 847 35 36 54 98 78 92 69 52 76 74 80 103
2006 1,712 171 130 164 175 141 123 125 95 109 153 165 161
2007 1,849 146 165 199 184 147 108 84 162 150 209 159 136
2008 2,359 227 175 220 237 228 197 171 101 143 204 209 247
2009 2,697 209 209 272 272 184 204 163 202 152 253 269 308
2010 3,807 232 187 398 407 302 365 262 261 311 299 408 375
2011 5,606 348 449 529 534 567 561 333 336 343 498 626 482
2012 8,159 701 536 757 632 729 679 568 453 518 799 832 955
2013 11,252 886 828 1,109 1,127 1,069 1,007 772 681 769 1,125 1,044 835
2014 11,937 1,176 745 1,182 1,251 957 1,097 782 781 875 901 1,188 1,002
2015 14,031 1,053 1,080 936 1,227 1,136 1,110 1,136 955 1,311 1,060 1,587 1,442
2016 20,069 1,423 1,763 1,990 1,728 1,701 1,380 1,725 1,234 1,506 2,062 1,719 1,838
2017 23,599 1,943 2,080 2,445 2,300 1,898 1,949 1,463 978 1,843 2,562 2,037 2,101
2018 27,338 2,711 2,262 2,745 2,816 2,391 2,743 1,150 2,080 1,868 1,884 2,151 2,537
2019 29,007 2,384 2,009 2,431 2,757 2,420 2,005 2,149 2,013 2,633 3,134 2,446 2,626
2020 29,417 2,661 2,576 2,521 2,732 2,171 3,106 1,855 1,897 1,844 2,466 2,897 2,691
2021 33,389 2,773 2,025 3,592 3,319 2,921 2,306 1,845 2,632 2,780 2,941 2,922 3,333
2022 37,418 2,960 3,018 3,473 4,160 3,743 3,180 2,988 2,298 2,426 2,624 3,311 3,237
2023 21,852 3,422 3,407 3,896 3,561 2,462 2,237 2,867

Also Read: How Does A Wind Power Turbine Work?

Future of Wind Power Oklahoma

Yates also stated that as Oklahoma looks to the future by using our natural and abundant resources, such as wind, solar, natural gas, and potentially hydrogen, more mega-firms, such as Amazon, Google, Kimberly-Clark, Budweiser, and others, will seek to purchase our power. With unlimited power resources, we have an amazing opportunity to lead our country’s energy revolution. The future of clean energy in Oklahoma is quite promising. As more wind farms, solar farms, and power storage systems are built around our state, Oklahoma will be able to diversify our energy business and maintain our position as a world leader for many decades. Clean energy will not only contribute significantly to economic progress but also create new jobs and opportunities for our citizens, fostering a brighter future for all.

In conclusion, the rise of wind power in Oklahoma represents a transformational move towards renewable energy, demonstrating the state’s dedication to sustainability. By harnessing the power of the wind, we are not only reducing our reliance on fossil fuels but also significantly reducing our carbon footprint. Oklahoma is not only leveraging its natural resources but also leading the way in renewable energy adoption, laying the groundwork for a greener future. This is a journey we should all be proud to be a part of as we work towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly Oklahoma.

Also Read: Global Outlook Of Offshore Wind Power Generation

 

Author

  • Michael Thompson

    Michael Thompson is an esteemed expert in the renewable energy sector, with a profound experience spanning over 25 years. His expertise encompasses various sustainable energy solutions, including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and energy efficiency practices. Michael discusses the latest trends in renewable energy and provides practical advice on energy conservation.

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