Which is easiest to build, a wind farm or a transmission line?

Sep 4, 2013

The high plains are wind-rich, but the biggest need for energy is on the populous coasts.  The issue is easily seen.   State Impact Oklahoma shared these maps. 

The higher the wind speed, the higher the energy potential.  Look where the greatest potential is.

Now, notice where the transmission lines are located.

Pay attention to the area from the Texas Panhandle north to Canada.  Note what is missing from the place with the greatest potential.  

The answer to the question is turbines are the easiest, transmission lines are the toughest.  The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies explains why:

The typical wind farm needs thousands of acres, but the parcels of land are easier to combine for a wind project than the rights of way for transmission lines.

“It may be economically and environmentally efficient to build excess capacity into certain transmission projects given the scarcity of rights of way and the challenges of developing location-constrained renewable energy resources without existing transmission,” the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center said earlier this year in a report on grid modernization.