Minnesota's solar capacity on track to keep growing in 2018

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Minnesota's solar capacity on track to keep growing in 2018

January 7, 2018

Minnesota added enough solar panels in 2017 to power about 53,000 homes, and strong growth is expected to continue in the new year.

The state's overall capacity is now at more than 700 megawatts, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which tracks solar installations.

"Our goal is to possibly reach a full gigawatt of solar in Minnesota by 2019," Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman said.


A gigawatt is less than half the capacity of Minnesota's largest coal-fired power plant, the Sherburne County Generating Station, or Sherco. Power plants like Sherco have an advantage over solar because they can run continuously. Solar panels only produce energy at their full capacity when the sun is out.

Battery storage can help us use the sun's energy more effectively by saving it for when we really need it.

"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.

Several states have ambitious plans for battery storage — California is looking to reach 1,300 megawatts of storage by 2020, and New York wants to add 1,500 megawatts by 2025, Gallagher said.

"There are a number of states that are still moving forward with their climate and sustainability goals, and adding storage to the system will help them do that," he said.

Minnesota has ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gases. By 2025, the state hopes to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels. The state did not meet its 2015 goal of a 15 percent reduction.

SOURCE:  MN Public Radio

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