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Minnesota solar electric installations achieve strong growth in 2012

New Minnesota solar electric installations in 2012 nearly tripled in capacity compared with 2011, according to figures compiled in a news release by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

“Solar is gaining a bigger role in Minnesota’s clean energy economy,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We are working hard with utilities and others to ensure that we incorporate solar energy into our renewable energy portfolio. While solar power still represents a very small portion of the total electric power in Minnesota, solar in Minnesota continues to make substantial progress and will continue to do so as it becomes more and more affordable.”

In 2012, 299 solar electric, or solar photovoltaic (PV), systems with a capacity of 4,844 kilowatts (kW) were installed in businesses, residences and nonprofit organizations. The 299 systems were the most since 2010 (265 installations) and greatly exceed the 164 installations and 1,771 kW in 2011. One of the largest factors in the increase was the installation of the new solar array at the Ikea store in Bloomington, accounting for 1,014 kW. Its claim as Minnesota’s biggest single solar PV system was eclipsed on January 4, 2013, when a 2,000 kW (or 2 MW) system went live in Slayton.

Minnesota currently has over 1,100 solar PV installations with total capacity of a little more than 13 MW (see Minnesota Annual Solar Installations graph below). While Minnesota ranks in the middle among states for total solar PV capacity, it is well behind solar leaders California (1,563 MW through 2011), New Jersey (566 MW), and Arizona (398 MW). Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power lead the state as utilities with the most installations: Xcel Energy has 777 with capacity of 11,113 kW, and Minnesota Power has 104 installations with 294 kW of capacity.