Photo: KSTP/ File
Photo: KSTP/ File
January 14, 2018 11:25 AM
Minnesota is expected to see more strong growth in solar energy after the state added enough solar panels in 2017 to power about 53,000 homes.
The state has an overall capacity of more than 700 megawatts, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
"Our goal is to possibly reach a full gigawatt of solar in Minnesota by 2019," Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman told Minnesota Public Radio.
Community solar gardens are fueling the growth. Thirty different utilities added solar gardens in the state last year. The gardens provide solar electricity to customers who don't want to install panels on their own homes.
"It's a way for them to participate in the growth of renewable energy themselves, receive electric credits on their utility bill," said David Amster-Olszewski, founder and CEO of Colorado-based SunShare.
The company opened community solar gardens in Waverly and Montrose last month. More facilities will go online this month, and construction on additional gardens is expected to resume this spring, Amster-Olszewski said.
Battery storage is another important part of the solar energy boom. It can help store energy more effectively and save it for when the power is most needed.
"Solar plus storage is like peanut butter and chocolate. Two great things that go even better together," said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association.
While Minnesota is lagging on solar storage when compared with other states, a study last year from the University of Minnesota's Energy Transition Lab indicated a strong potential for solar energy and storage to help meet electricity demands.
State officials hope to vastly reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions. The state hopes 2025 will have levels that are 30 percent less than 2005 levels. The state failed to meet its 2015 goal of a 15 percent reduction.
Created: January 14, 2018 11:25 AM
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