This report shows that a renewable energy future is not only possible in Minnesota, but that the generation cost of solar, wind, and storage is competitive with natural gas.
New MISO-wide Analysis: Feedback from the Solar Potential Analysis included the value of running a similar analysis for the entire Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) service territory in an effort to model the day-to-day realities of Minnesota’s role in a larger network. MISO results are now available.
Minnesota has been ambitious in meeting its renewable energy goals: the state already reached its current Renewable Electricity Standard of 25 percent by 2025, and is on track to reach our current Solar Electricity Standard of 1.5 percent by the end of 2020.
The Solar Potential Analysis Report, prepared by Clean Power Research for the MN Solar Pathways Initiative, includes several scenarios that model future renewable energy generation costs. The report finds that Minnesota could achieve 10 percent solar by 2025 at costs comparable to natural gas generation. Further, the report finds that expected cost decreases in solar, wind, and storage will enable Minnesota to achieve 70 percent solar and wind by 2050 at costs comparable to natural gas generation.
Click here to download a press release about the report.
Key findings from the report (click to expand)
Solar and wind can serve 70 percent of Minnesota’s electrical load in 2050. Solar and wind can serve 70 percent of Minnesota’s load at generation costs that are comparable to the levelized generation cost of new natural gas generation.
Watch this finding explained in video:
Additional capacity coupled with energy curtailment is considerably less expensive than, and a viable alternative to, long-term or seasonal storage in a high renewables future. Declining costs of solar and wind generation (<$20/MWh) will enable solar and wind to be economically curtailed during periods of high production and low load.
Watch this finding explained in video:
Using other flexible generation resources in limited amounts supports a high renewables future. The strategic use of other generation resources during brief periods of low-solar and low-wind production will significantly reduce the storage, solar, and wind capacities needed to serve Minnesota’s hourly load, reducing the generation cost for 70 percent solar and wind by nearly half.
Storage is an important part of a high renewables future; it expands the dispatch capabilities of wind and solar assets. Sufficient quantities of storage smooth out the intra-hour variability of solar and wind.
Shifting of key flexible loads may further decrease generation costs. Load shifting of new electric vehicle and residential domestic hot water loads demonstrated a potential 10-20 percent decrease in generation costs by moving the consumption to different times in an hour, day, or week.
Perspectives on the Solar Potential Analysis
Solar Potential Analysis in the News
About MN Solar Pathways
The initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, is 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 is modeling renewable generation costs, examining ways to streamline interconnection, and evaluating technologies that can increase solar hosting capacity on the distribution grid.
MN Solar Pathways is led by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Great Plains Institute, Center for Energy and Environment, Clean Energy Resource Teams, and Clean Power Research. 20 other organizations, from utilities to advocacy groups and from corporations to local governments, have contributed their time and expertise in the review and creation of reports for the initiative.