The North Dakota State University (NDSU) student newspaper NDSU Spectator recently carried an article by Opinion Editor Nathan Stottler titled "North Dakota's other oil field" focusing on the state's enormous wind potential.
Mr. Stottler opens by speaking with real feeling about North Dakota's abundant winds: "Every one of you has asked yourself the same question, especially on days like today. A high of -9 degrees? 25-MPH winds? Wind chill of -40 degrees? Welcome to North Dakota in January, now remind me again when it was that I decided to go to school above the Arctic Circle?
"Negative nine degrees isn’t all that bad when left alone. Give yourself a calm, sunny day, and -9 degree air just feels extra crisp and refreshing. It isn’t until you throw in North Dakota’s x-factor that the cold begins to penetrate your jacket, liner, sweater and two t-shirts and chill you to the bone that the cold really gets to you."
He goes on to note correctly that while North Dakota is currently seeing an oil boom driven by new methods of extraction, it's using only a fraction of its estimated wind resource (1,424 MW of a potential 770,000), and harnessing more of that resource would result in the creation of a sustainable industry that could benefit the state.
As one symbolic step toward that goal, Mr. Stottler urges that NDSU consider developing its own wind power supply and begin to transition away from fossil fuels. While acknowledging that may be an ambitious undertaking, he concludes, "It is our job to be ambitious. It is our job to push the limits, to test new methods, and to set an example for society. North Dakota can become a clean energy standard to which the rest of the nation will repair. And NDSU can be the guiding star that helps its state get there."
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