This is the final technical report submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy summarizing the efforts and findings of the MN Solar Pathways project.
The Minnesota Solar Pathways project, funded in part by the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, was a three-year project designed to explore least-risk, best-value strategies for meeting the State of Minnesota’s solar goals. As part of this aim, the Pathways Team modeled renewable generation costs, examined ways to streamline interconnection, and evaluated technologies that can increase solar hosting capacity on the distribution grid.
Midway through the project period, the Pathways Team expanded the scope of study using the same modeling framework from the Minnesota Solar Potential Analysis to estimate and compare generation costs for high renewables penetration scenarios across the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region (see report). The analysis concludes that it can be cheaper to overbuild solar + wind and curtail surplus than to store all generation. In addition, the analysis of individual MISO subregions compared with the whole region highlights the opportunities of enabling market potential compared with impact of ongoing transmission constraints.
Beyond the analysis of future scenarios, the partnerships initiated and supported through this project underscored the ongoing need for work with stakeholders to address key issues, particularly around siting (see guide), and leverage symbiotic strategies to meet state goals.