Commentary: Research needed on wind power's potential in South Carolina

This editorial appeared in The Myrtle Beach Sun.

Wind, solar and other clean sources of electrical energy aren't enough to keep the lights on no matter what, but these renewable energy sources, especially wind power, are increasingly important.

So, too, the Palmetto Wind Research Project's study to determine whether there is enough offshore wind to build a wind turbine farm off the S.C. coast. Representatives of the S.C. Energy Office, Coastal Carolina University and Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility, jointly announced the study.

Researchers will need at least 18 months to ascertain if the wind potential is enough for a wind farm. If weather conditions allow it, work will begin in a couple of weeks to launch two strings of buoys fitted with wind-measuring devices and sonar near Waties Island off Little River and Winyah Bay at Georgetown.

Capturing the power of the wind to draw water and grind grain has been done for about 1,200 years. Persians developed the earliest windmills, using sails covered in reed matting. According to Wikipedia, windmills were widely used in Ninth century Persia (modern Iran) and spread to Europe.

Windmills or water pumps were used on farms and ranches in the Midwest and central plains of the United States. In 1930, an estimated 600,000 windmills were in use in the states. As electricity reached remote areas, windmills declined; however, some 60,000 are still in use in the U.S. Windmills also are used widely in Australia and Southern Africa, Wikipedia says.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Myrtle Beach Sun.