The state of Minnesota has no fossil fuel reserves at all – no natural gas, no coal, and no oil. However, it does have resources of another kind. Solar energy is Minnesota’s largest energy resource. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that Minnesota has enough solar “technical potential” to produce more than 150 times its current electrical consumption.
However, this potential does not reflect the current state of Minnesota’s energy recipe. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 40 percent of the energy used in Minnesota comes from coal imported from Wyoming and Montana. Nuclear energy from the Monticello reactor and the Prairie Island I and II reactors provide 25 percent of the state’s electricity. The rest of the state’s electricity comes from natural gas at 17 percent, and renewable energy production including hydro power, wind power, and solar at 20 percent. As a whole, Minnesota has about 13,700 MW of installed energy capacity.
Renewable friendly legislation in 2013, including the legalization of community solar and the creation of the Made in Minnesota Solar Production Incentive, has allowed solar in Minnesota to grow quickly. It’s difficult to say how much solar exists in Minnesota now, because this number is a fast moving target, but we estimate there to be over 19 MW (or over 0.1% of Minnesota’s current energy needs). There is more than enough room to grow – NREL estimates Minnesota’s potential for solar energy production to be over 20 GW (or 1,460% of Minnesota’s energy needs).
If this potential is utilized, what will this do for MN’s economy? According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Minnesota Solar Business Directory, there are 140 solar affiliated businesses in Minnesota already. If we tap into our immense solar resource, Minnesota can grow and localize many more jobs in energy.
Economical and production benefits aside, there is a more important reason to utilize Minnesota’s solar potential. As a state, we must work to decrease our carbon emissions drastically if we are to prevent and mitigate climate change. Worldwide, carbon emission growth stalled in 2015. Let’s continue that trend. For the sake of our environment, state job security, and the economy we need to utilize Minnesota’s solar potential for the fullest. We need to utilize our largest energy resource. Contact us now at 612-888-9599 or click here: Contact Us