In 2007, the legislature passed a bill, called the Next Generation Energy Act, that aimed not only to reduce electricity use from fossil fuel by 15 percent by 2015, but also to increase electricity from renewable sources to 25 percent by 2025. A recent report from the Minnesota Department of Commerce shows that the state in on track to meet its goal. Minnesota generated 21 percent of its electricity from renewable energy – wind, solar, hydro, and biomass – last year.
Minnesota shows its commitment to fight climate change by shifting away from fossil fuels, especially coal. According to the Department of Commerce, Minnesota renewable energy in electricity mix has tripled from six percent in 2005 to 21 percent in 2015. Wind energy made the biggest renewable energy share of 17 percent, up from three percent in 2005. The state is gearing up to tap into its solar energy source, as it passed a Solar Energy Standard in 2013 that requires 1.5 percent of Minnesota electricity to be generated from solar energy by 2020. The law also set a goal of 10 percent of electricity from solar by 2030.
Currently, there is only about 27 megawatts (MW) of solar energy installed, less than one percent of electricity in Minnesota. Solar energy is expected to get brighter in 2016 with new projects on the way. North Star Solar Project, for example, is currently under development and its 100 MW facility will become the Midwest’s biggest solar array once approved. Geronimo Energy, an Edina-based firm, is now installing solar arrays in 21 sites as its Aurora Solar Project, a combined 100 MW solar project, received approval from state regulators last year.
Xcel Energy also estimates at least 250 MW solar energy will be installed via its community solar garden program. The program is expected to help Minnesota’s economy shine as Xcel will buy electricity from communities throughout the state instead of importing coal from outside the state.
This significant growth in renewable energy is a result of both state and federal incentive programs. More information on these programs is available here.