Media: How Minnesota could economically reach 70 percent renewable electricity (Energy News Network)

Jan 9, 2019

From Energy News Network:

A recent report from Minnesota pollution regulators shows the state is making progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it isn’t doing enough to keep pace with its long-term goals or stop catastrophic climate change.

As a new administration takes office this week, its predecessors leave it with at least one blueprint for closing those gaps. It requires no new technologies but a dramatic shift in thinking about how the electric system is managed. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, clean energy advocates, and all the state’s major utilities over the past three years developed the Solar Potential Analysis Report. (Fresh Energy, which publishes the Energy News Network, was among the stakeholders that participated in the process.)

The report, published in November, concludes that Minnesota could get 70 percent of its electricity from wind and solar by 2050 at no additional cost compared to natural gas. Instead of batteries to balance the variable generation, it suggests that overbuilding wind and solar capacity would be more economical. The model calls for reaching up to 22 gigawatts capacity each for wind and solar power...

...Battery storage, on the other hand, serves hourly to weekly demands for electricity, Quinnell said. Longer energy storage options dramatically bump up costs. “We’re not diminishing storage but finding the right place for it,” he said. “On short timescales of an hour or up to a week, there’s an important role for storage. We couldn’t do this without storage. But at longer timescales, storage becomes expensive.”

A smaller role would be played by load shifting to follow when wind and solar are strong. Clean energy advocates, Quinnell said, have long called for electrification of home heating and hot water. “Our model is concurrent with others that show we can reduce source energy emissions if we go electric on our heating and hot water in Minnesota … if single-family housing stock does air source heat pumps for space heating and storage water heaters for domestic hot water,” he said...

Read the full article at Energy News Network

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