South Dakota has taken one giant leap towards promoting cleaner, more renewable energy. Earlier this month, the Mount Rushmore state opened its largest solar farm, with officials celebrating the milestone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located on a 9-acre field surrounding the Pierre airport, it’s expected to produce enough electricity for roughly 200 households, making it a critical component in South Dakota’s energy infrastructure.
Of course, building this massive solar farm was no easy task, nor was it cheap. Estimates suggest it cost around $2 million, with many officials saying that’s a conservative estimate. South Dakota’s largest solar farm was a joint effort, with workers from the Geronimo Energy and Sioux Falls-based Missouri River Energy Services collaborating on the project. Researchers from the University of South Dakota are also expected to take part, although they’ll be focused strictly on researching the farm’s power output.
To put the importance of this solar power farm into perspective, officials say it’s the first “utility scale” project in the state — and they are hoping that it paves the way towards other clean and renewable energy projects.
There’s been a growing push among government officials and the general public alike to make the transition from coal-burning power plants to solar and wind energy. The latter, of course, is clean and renewable, making it the preferred choice for Eco-conscious individuals.
“It’s just a demonstration (project) for us,” said Tom Heller, CEO of Missouri River Energy Services. “It’s not large. It’s the first one we’ve done. We just want to see what it will do. As utility companies start to look at the economics of solar, and as solar technology improves — the economics is improving — there will become a point when a number of the other utilities will want to do something similar, or perhaps larger-scale projects.”
As you may already know, solar power involves the use of PV panels to collect and convert sunlight into electricity. According to estimates by the Internal Energy Agency, solar power will produce 11 to 16% of the world’s electricity, attesting to its importance.
While the new solar power farm in South Dakota is certainly impressive, it’s not the world’s largest. That title belongs to the Ivanpah farm. Located in the scorching-hot deserts of the Mojave, it produces some 392 MW of power.
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