Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Renewable energy sources in Minnesota – Quick outlook

Minnesota has made rapid renewable energy development in the last couple of years and is today one of the nation's clean energy leaders. The most important renewable energy source in the state is wind power, that currently provides satisfies than 10% of state's energy demand.

Minnesota’s currently installed wind power capacity is bigger than 2,500 MW. If wind power capacity will continue to grow at current pace the state will have no problems in achieving its goal of obtaining 25% of energy coming from renewable energy sources by 2025.

Wind energy is not all about clean, emission-free energy because wind energy industry is also major job creator. According to American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Minnesota's wind energy industry supports around 3,000 jobs annually.

Wind power still remains the best clean energy option for Minnesota but the state also looks anxious to add more solar power to the grid. There is still an ongoing debate whether Minnesota should focus on solar power or not because while some consider solar power as an excellent renewable energy option for Minnesota the others say that solar power is not an economically viable energy option for Minnesota due to state's rather average solar insolation values. Solar energy still accounts for only around 0.1% of Minnesota’s energy supply.

The rather interesting 2012 study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research concluded that Minnesota could become 100% renewable with a combination of wind and solar energy, given that these two renewable energy sources are combined with big energy storage and serious grid improvements.

It also has to be mentioned that Minnesota is currently the fourth largest ethanol producer in United States by producing more than 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol per year and biofuels are expected to play a very important role in Minnesota's renewable energy industry in years to come.

The future renewable energy outlook for Minnesota remains very positive, and Minnesota should remain one of nation’s clean energy leaders for foreseeable future.