News Release: Grant to advance Minnesota’s solar energy progress (MN Department of Commerce)

Oct 20, 2016

CEE will contribute to this effort on two fronts. Staff will team with fellow project partners Great Plains Institute and Clean Energy Resource Teams to enhance stakeholder engagement, and CEE researchers will assist Clean Power Research to interpret and extract value from related modeling efforts.

From the Minnesota Department of Commerce:

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has been awarded a $2 million grant that will help realize Minnesota’s goal of generating 10 percent of its electricity from the sun by 2030.

The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is called “Project North Star: Illuminating the Way to PV Integration.” [Note: The project has since been renamed "Minnesota Solar Pathways."] It will combine a stakeholder collaboration process with technical analysis to support Minnesota’s deployment of solar electricity, also known as photovoltaics (PV).

“Diversifying Minnesota’s energy portfolio with additional solar electricity will create new economic opportunities for people across our state, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that hurt our health and environment,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I thank the U.S. Department of Energy for providing the grant, and look forward to working with our Minnesota-based partners to implement it.”

The state goal of 10 percent solar by 2030 will take Minnesota from 35 megawatts of solar capacity at the end of 2015 to as much as 6 gigawatts by 2030. (One gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts.)

“This important grant will strengthen Minnesota’s efforts to continue moving forward to a clean energy future,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, whose agency serves as the state energy office. “Project North Star is an opportunity for the Commerce Department to work together with our many partners and stakeholders to make Minnesota a leading state for solar innovation and deployment.”

Led by the Commerce Department, Project North Star includes four core partners: Center for Energy and Environment, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), Clean Power Research and Great Plains Institute. It also involves a host of supporting partners, including utilities, local governments and solar industry representatives.

The project will engage in a wide range of activities with these stakeholders to identify and demonstrate least-cost, best-value strategies for Minnesota to achieve its solar energy goals. This includes the potential of key technologies and management approaches to overcome grid integration challenges with increased solar. 

Related Links
Minnesota Solar Pathways project page
SunShot Initiative
Solar Energy Evolution and Diffusion Studies 2 – State Energy Strategies SEEDs2-SES
Project Profile: Minnesota Department of Commerce (SEEDS2-SES)