Top 10 Minnesota clean energy stories of 2021
Minnesota’s clean energy industry rebounded in 2021, despite the ongoing pandemic. At the state level, CEEM along with clean energy businesses and advocates helped pass the most sweeping piece of energy legislation in at least a decade. Federal clean energy policy has also been in the spotlight, with passage of the Infrastructure Bill and significant excitement surrounding the yet-to-be-passed Build Back Back agenda.
In addition to policy, Minnesota made great strides forward in its carbon emission reduction goals, while continuing to raise the bar and address a variety of different sectors within the economy to compact emissions. From trade missions to Europe and the launch of a new clean tech accelerator – there is a lot to be excited about as we reflect on the biggest stories from the last year, and look ahead to new goals in 2022.
- Report: Crisis hurt MN clean energy jobs but not overall growth In 2020, for the first time, renewable energy was Minnesota’s largest power generation source, providing nearly a third of Minnesota’s electricity. More than half of Minnesota’s power came from zero-carbon sources in 2020.
Clean Energy Economy MN’s Minnesota Energy Factsheet highlights Minnesota’s latest energy trends.
- New Minnesota accelerator aims to energize emerging cleantech ecosystem To foster the entrepreneurial spirit in Minnesota, CEEM partnered with Nina Axelson to launch her clean energy tech accelerator, Grid Catalyst. This accelerator will provide a space for clean energy startups to launch and demonstrate their tech in the marketplace with greater success. The accelerator also plans to emphasize creating a welcoming environment for women and people of color entrepreneurs.
- Minnesota clean energy proponents see 100,000 workers in a few years Despite the pandemic, the latter half of 2020 showed a 10% growth in clean jobs. Last year, Minnesota was home to 55,300 clean energy workers. A full third of those jobs are located in Greater Minnesota.
Clean jobs are projected to grow even more in 2022, as is outlined in CEEM’s, Clean Jobs Midwest Report.
- ECO Act broadens energy efficiency options for businesses and consumers Passage of the ECO Act modernizes Minnesota’s most successful energy efficiency policy– the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). The ECO Act continues Minnesota’s leadership on energy efficiency and economic progress in clean energy. The improvements to CIP include reforms which will increase consumer options in how, when, and what type of energy they use. These adjustments not only increase savings and jobs, but also set the state up for a more successful transition to a clean grid in the future.
- Dedication to efficiency; a mayor’s pledge Cities led by climate mayor’s, like Rochester are helping lead the charge in decarbonizing efforts across the state. Clean energy businesses are partnering with these cities to help realize sustainability and climate goals. Learn how Rochester Mayor Kim Norton is helping the City carve out a new path thanks to partnership with the design-build energy efficiency firm McKinstry.
- Washington can look to states for proof that investing in clean energy works CEEM raises its profile with a joint op-ed in The Hill alongside partner organizations in Virginia and Georgia. The Build Back Better agenda would include more than $500 billion for clean energy investments across the country – a historic opportunity for the industry, and a massive job creator.
- What Minnesota is getting from the new federal infrastructure bill Over the next five years, Minnesota will receive $6.8 billion of President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill. These funds will go toward Minnesota’s transportation sector, with $4.5 billion going toward federal-aid highway programs and $302 million allocated to bridge improvements. There is also $68 million allocated for expanding the state’s EV charging infrastructure.
- Minnesotans take inspiration from Europe’s ambitious emission reduction goals In mid-November, CEEM’s Virginia Mooty Rutter accompanied Governor Walz’s trade mission to the United Kingdom and Finland. The delegation met with businesses and organizations throughout the mission, promoting Minnesota’s economy and showcasing it at an international scale.
- Office buildings impact emissions too; MN wants to address that Minnesota office buildings use about 40% of the state’s energy – representing a big piece of the carbon emissions puzzle. There is a renewed attempt this upcoming year to help address the role commercial buildings play in contributing to carbon emissions. Expect discussions of a bill at the Minnesota state legislature in 2022.
- Diversity a key to growing the clean energy industry A diverse workforce is no longer a suggestion, but rather an expectation. The opportunities that arise from a broadened scope of perspectives have been embraced, and 2022 will see the incorporation of new voices and ideas in the clean energy industry.