Minnesota has been one of the nation’s top states when it comes to #solar power utility and innovation. Across Minnesota, solar utility companies and developers are to be thanked for the increasing and rapid growth seen in the state in the last few years. Even when other states have fallen short, or national statistics show a stall in solar power growth, Minnesota has consistently increased solar power utility.
The prestigious goals set by state solar #energy leaders, along with the integration of community solar gardens, have helped to make Minnesota a leader in the field. Various companies like Xcel and Invenergy in the state have pushed for increased solar utility and the use of the community solar gardens. Currently, Minnesota has one of the nation’s largest community solar garden programs. These particular projects have been imperative to the success seen in Minnesota and show no signs of stopping or slowing down.
Community Solar Gardens
Solar gardens were introduced via the Minnesota State Legislature nearly six years ago in 2013. Residential customers, along with business and government buildings, are typically the entities to take advantage of solar gardens. Solar energy gardens are a solution that has been used in recent years to offer solar energy to lots of people, without taking up a lot of space. A centralized location, or garden, holds the solar energy panels and surrounding buildings and customers are able to share the energy. These solar gardens have revolutionized how customers perceive and consume clean and renewable energy. Instead of having to place individual solar panels to the roofs of every building for each individual solar energy consumer, the community garden works to provide clean energy for multiple residents or consumers at the same time. By providing multiple home or businesses with clean energy while taking up a small amount of space, community gardens have proven to be extremely efficient.
In addition to their community solar gardens, Minnesota has two other types of solar energy they focus on. The first type is distributed solar energy, which consists of residential and commercial building rooftop panel installations. Secondly, utility-scale solar energy focuses on solar farms that are quite large and expansive. Even with the focus being on community solar gardens, it is the integration of traditional solar utility, along with innovative expansions that have made Minnesota’s standing in the solar energy field so prominent and unmatched.
Reducing Solar Energy Costs
A recent project by MN Solar Pathways set out to study what practical set-ups would best serve the state’s renewable energy future. The Solar Energy Technologies Office for the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored the study and ultimately found that by 2025, it is likely that Minnesota will be closer to achieving prices for solar power that are comparable to natural gas utility. In particular, wind solar power is expected that increase use of such renewable energy generation will be a major factor in helping to reduce costs for taxpayers and consumers. The report takes a comprehensive look at the different components of Minnesota’s current solar utility. It highlights what provisions have already been helpful in shifting the state towards a cleaner future, but also where changes need to be made in the coming decades.
Focusing on the Future
Minnesota has already surpassed goals that were set for 2025. Currently, the state has achieved 25 percent total renewable utility through a combination of traditional solar, biomass, hydropower, and wind solar utility. They hit this particular goal nearly seven years earlier than originally intended. After being elected this year, the new governor-elect Tim Walz has now set the new goal for 50 percent renewable utility for the state by 2030. Ultimately, he is determined to help Minnesota continue on a positive trajectory.
Growing the solar energy economy in the state is a top priority. The positive growth that has already been seen only adds to the enthusiasm for future projects and innovations. As a whole, nearly 60,000 residents in Minnesota work in the solar energy sector. With the implementation of at least 2,700 new jobs in the coming year, this number is expected to rise.