Solar power in Minnesota

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University of Minnesota solar car

Solar power in Minnesota has been increasing, as the cost of photovoltaics has decreased. In 1983 Minnesota adopted a net metering rule which allows customers generating up to 40 kW to use net metering, with the kilowatt hour surplus rolled over each month, or optionally credited at the retail rate.[1]

In May 2013, the Minnesota legislature adopted a mandate on investor-owned utilities in the state that requires them to produce 1.5% of their electricity from solar power by 2020 with the bill also raising the state's cap on net metering from 40 kW to 1 MW. This mandate is in addition to the state's renewable portfolio standard of 25% by 2025 and it is estimated that affected utilities will have to add 450 MW of solar by 2020 to comply with the 1.5% requirement.[2]

While Minnesota is currently developing several utility level projects, currently, Minnesota's largest solar array is the North Star Solar Project in North Branch, Minnesota. With more than 440,000 solar panels, its output is more than 100MW.[3] Other large arrays include the 62MW Marshall Solar Energy Project, completed in January 2017, a 2MW solar array in Slayton followed by a 1 MW array at an IKEA in Bloomington.[4] There is also a 600 kW array on the roof of the Minneapolis Convention Center,.[5] In January 2015, Ecolab announced it would be going 100% solar powered by purchasing power from community solar gardens to be built by SunEdison.[6] Ecolab's share of the power would be 16MW, more than the amount of solar power in the state at the time of the announcement. If completely subscribed the solar gardens could provide up to 200MW. The Aurora Solar Project is a similar distributed network of arrays planned to reach 100MW utilizing midsized 2MW-10MW installations throughout the southern half of the state.[7][8] The 62MW Marshall Solar Energy Project is proposed to be built on 500 acres near Marshall, Minnesota.[9] Already home to the state's largest array, Chisago County, Minnesota has seven additional arrays in various stages of completion, earning it the nickname the solar capitol of Minnesota.[10] When finished they will generate roughly 29 MW.[11]

Minnesota has the potential to generate 38.5% of its electricity from rooftop solar, from 23,100 MW of solar panels. St. Paul can generate 27% of its electricity, using 800 MW, and Minneapolis 26% from 1,000 MW.[12]

A 2016 estimate suggests that a typical 5 kW system will pay for itself in about 10 years. With incentives, a $20,000 system can be installed for a net profit after the first year of $5,331, and will generate a profit of $11,833 over its 25-year life, using a loan. Purchasing it outright returns a 9.2% return on investment, saving $20,301 over 25 years, and increases the home value by $15,210.[13]


Source: NREL[14]
Minnesota Grid-Connected PV Capacity (MW)[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]
Year Capacity Installed % Change
2007 0.5 0.3 150%
2008 1.0 0.3 100%
2009 1.9 0.9 90%
2010 3.6 1.7 89%
2011 4.8 1.2 33%
2012 11.3 6.5 135%
2013 15.8 3.8 32%
2014 20 4.2 27%
2015 33 13 65%
2016 373 340 1030%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Minnesota - Net Metering
  2. ^ Haugen, Dan (2013-05-24). "Minnesota's new solar law: Looking beyond percentages". Midwest Energy News. Retrieved 2013-05-25. 
  3. ^ Rosenblatt, Molly. "Construction Completed On The Largest Solar Grid In The Midwest". Retrieved 2017-03-19. 
  4. ^ Notable Solar Installations in Minnesota
  5. ^ Minneapolis Convention Center Solar Panel Project Finished Ahead of Schedule
  6. ^ Ecolab to go all-solar in Minnesota, DAVID SHAFFER, Star Tribune, January 13, 2015
  7. ^ Regulators approve Aurora Solar Project
  8. ^ Aurora Solar Project details
  9. ^ Planned solar farm in southwest MN draws fire from residents, Mark Steil, Duluth News Tribune, January 21, 2015
  10. ^ "Chisago County proud to be solar capitol of Minnesota". 
  11. ^ "Solar Development Projects In Chisago County, March 30, 2016". Chisago County, Minnesota. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  12. ^ Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment
  13. ^ Minnesota
  14. ^ "PV Watts". NREL. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Sherwood, Larry (August 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2011" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  16. ^ Sherwood, Larry (June 2011). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2010" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 20. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  17. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2010). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2009" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  18. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  19. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2009). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2008" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2010-07-24. 
  20. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2012). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2012" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). p. 16. Retrieved 2013-10-11. 
  21. ^ Sherwood, Larry (July 2014). "U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013" (PDF). Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). Retrieved 2014-09-26. 
  22. ^ Minnesota Solar

External links[edit]