Harnessing the wind as a viable, environmental friendly solution to meet the future growing demand for energy was discussed in Columbia Monday as the the Wind Energy Production Farms Feasibility Committee held its first meeting. Erika Myers, Renewable Energy Coordinator for the South Carolina Energy Office, says wind energy in the next few years may develop into what she calls a midterm solution. Myers says while there will not be near term installations that will significantly provide renewable energy for the state, areas along the shoreline may see significant activity in the field of wind power over the next decade.”10 to 15 years out we do expect to see large scale wind installations along the coast and in the interim between now and the midterm we’re in the regulatory and research process.”
Members of the committee were briefed on the status of past and current energy projects in the state from Santee Cooper, Coastal Carolina University and the Savannah River National Laboratory. Myers says while the reports were very encouraging, on a large scale the areas in which wind power can be harnessed in the state are limited.
“Unfortunately onshore opportunities are not present in South Carolina. Certainly there are some ares of the state that could benefit from a commercial or residential scale, but in terms of utility scale wind energy development is going to be all offshore.”
Myers says a lot of hurdles have to be cleared before we can get to a position where utilities and investors feel comfortable in putting in large wind facilities.
Myers says in the near term the State Energy Office is focusing on the appropriate amount of research and environmental considerations looking to see what combination of alternative energy technologies would be suitable and effective to meet the state’s future energy needs. Myers notes the natural limitations of wind and solar.
“You can’t get energy from them at all points of time during the day, but if there is some way to integrate it into the system with other types of renewable energy generation like biomass energy or small hydro and you can turn on those other sources quickly, then they’ll even themselves out and definitely be a solution.”