April 21, 2021
The recently released 2021 Minnesota Energy Factsheet, shows that clean energy made huge strides in 2020, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s exciting about this report is the visualization of how rapidly Minnesota’s clean energy sector is changing. It’s not very often we get to live through transformations, but there is one taking place in Minnesota, and it’s happening in real time.
New information being released in the 2021 Minnesota Energy Factsheet about Minnesota’s clean energy transition could help inform decision-making about the state’s continued economic recovery. The Factsheet was compiled by research firm BloombergNEF and published by Clean Energy Economy MN and our partners at the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.
The Factsheet looks back at 2020, as well as energy trends over the past decade. It also digs into how our state’s economy transitioned to clean energy and the strong economic benefits and results for customers and businesses.
Here are seven highlights from the Factsheet that shine a spotlight on the incredible progress our state has made in the last decade and can help us as we forge into the next decade.
More than half of Minnesota’s power came from zero-carbon sources in 2020. Meanwhile, coal’s contribution slipped from 32 percent in 2019 to 25 percent in 2020. A full 55 percent of Minnesota’s power in 2020 came from renewable energy and nuclear power. A big year for new wind and solar coming online, combined with the retirement of aging coal plants created new opportunities for clean energy.
Renewable generation rose from 18 percent of generation in 2011 to 29 percent in 2020, becoming the #1 source of electricity in Minnesota last year. As the cost of wind and solar has dramatically declined in the last decade, you see a direct correlation with it becoming an economical and increasingly preferred choice by Minnesota utilities, businesses and consumers.
84% of all new power-generating capacity built in Minnesota in the last decade came from renewable energy, adding 3.9 GW. The economics of building wind and solar have changed. Over the last decade, enough wind and solar have been built to provide electricity for nearly a million homes in Minnesota.
Power sector emissions in Minnesota fell nearly 17 percent in 2020 alone. Since 2011, emissions are down 40 percent. Minnesota’s electricity sector continues to decarbonize and become less reliant on imports due to substantial additions of renewable energy.
Excluding the production tax credit (PTC), new wind builds are cheaper than new combined-cycle natural gas plant builds on a $/MWh basis in Minnesota. With the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), wind and solar technologies are the cheapest form of new electricity generation in the state. The ability for wind to directly compete in the marketplace against natural gas is extremely significant. The extension of the Investment Tax Credit for solar late last year was a boon for Minnesota’s solar industry to remain competitive with all other electricity-generating forms of energy.
Electric vehicle sales in Minnesota are accelerating as battery prices have fallen. From 2016 to 2020 annual sales of battery electric vehicles are up 6X to 3,800 units. Annual plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales rose nearly 2X to 2,000 units. The sales of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) have ramped up in recent years thanks to a combination of lower prices, federal subsidies, and greater consumer choice. If the Minnesota Clean Cars rule currently under review becomes part of state statute, that will also drive an increased adoption of electric vehicles in the state.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Minnesota 9th out of all 50 states for its overall energy efficiency programs (the highest ranking in the Midwest). Minnesota continues to be a leader in pursuing energy efficiency measures, posting a 24% boost in energy productivity over the last decade and a 3% rise between 2019 and 2020. If the ECO Act currently being debated at the Minnesota Legislature is passed, Minnesota’s commitment to energy efficiency will be substantially strengthened.
The Factsheet is produced by BloombergNEF for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and Clean Energy Economy MN, as a resource to policymakers, journalists, industry, and the interested public. It is a companion to the national 2021 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook.
The Factsheet is available to download for free here.