Clean Technology and Renewable Energy

Our nationally known reputation for having the right combination of resources, expertise and supportive public policy makes Minnesota an excellent location to grow a clean technology or renewable energy business.

In fact, Minnesota is ranked in the top five states for Clean Technology by Site Selection magazine.

We've earned that recognition by making solid commitments and significant investments in developing the “green economy." Minnesota has several efforts underway to support the continued growth of clean technology and renewable energy companies in our state, including:

  • One of the strongest renewable energy standards in the nation, requiring at least 25 percent of our electricity be generated by renewable resources by 2025.
  • A Green Enterprise Assistance Team to help streamline legal, and regulatory processes and guide green business projects to appropriate state programs and services.
  • Tax credits for research and development and Angel Tax Credits for investing in new and emerging companies focused on high technology or new proprietary technology.

Clean Technology

Minnesota was green before green was cool. Minnesota has strong clusters of activity in green chemistry and biomaterials, next generation building technologies, and water filtration and conservation.

These clusters are composed of several established companies, newer startups, and a supportive clean technology business ecosystem.

The University of Minnesota is home to the Center for Sustainable Polymers, the Center for Sustainable Building Technologies, and the Institute for Renewable Energy and the Environment that funds cutting-edge research on renewable energy and environmental technologies.

Research activities focused on technologies such as smart grid, algal biomass, and green chemistry are underway. The university’s chemical engineering program is one of the top in the nation.

Clean Technology goes beyond the University of Minnesota and includes many other individuals and organizations. The Clean Economy Network is an organized group of more than 1,000 professionals from clean-tech companies, investment groups, accounting and legal firms, and the public sector. The group meets regularly to share information, develop contacts, and build relationships.

A public-private Smart Grid Coalition has been established to position Minnesota as a leader in the development and deployment of smart grid technologies, products and services. Minnesota has established strengths in control technologies and other smart-grid related innovations.

The coalition is currently exploring opportunities to combine the expertise of Minnesota companies and related research underway at the University of Minnesota to develop a smart grid community demonstration project.

The cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have launched a green manufacturing initiative to collaborate to support the development of the green economy. Their plans include a marketing effort highlighting the green manufacturing capacity of the region and an alignment of policies to support green products and green buildings.

An Energy Innovation Corridor has been designated along University Avenue between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Corridor is designed to provide a public demonstration of the incorporation of various energy efficient and renewable energy technologies.

View a copy of our Clean Technology Brochure.

Renewable Energy

Geographic location and access to natural resources leave Minnesota uniquely poised to support the growth and development of businesses in several renewable energy and renewable fuel sectors.

Forests, prairies and farmland provide companies access to a diverse array of biomass for renewable energy development. Minnesota is in the heart of wind country and the state has made great strides in developing its wind energy sector.

Minnesota also has an emerging solar sector with four original equipment manufacturers and several other manufacturers participating in the supply chain.

Renewable Energy Overview
Minnesota leaders recognize the opportunities surrounding bio-based renewable energy technologies and there are several efforts established to support the growth of renewable energy companies in Minnesota.

The International Renewable Energy Technology Institute of Minnesota is a public-private partnership that supports the transfer of technology from northern Europe to the United States and supports the testing and verification of renewable energy technology for U.S. companies.

The Minnesota Biobusiness Alliance has developed a “biomap” to make it easier for companies to identify resources and partners throughout the state of Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota has several initiatives that support renewable energy. These include the Institute on the Environment, which provides financial support for research and innovation in partnership with University of Minnesota researchers and the West Central Research and Outreach Center. The University of Minnesota's Morris campus have several innovative projects underway including a wind to anhydrous ammonia project and a biomass gasification project.

The University of Minnesota's Solar Energy Laboratory specializes in development of solar technologies for a wide range of applications including high-temperature cycles that utilize concentrated solar radiation for fuel and power production, and low-temperature distributed solar systems for space heating, cooling and hot water.

The Agricultural Utilization and Research Institute convenes quarterly Renewable Energy Roundtables to build and strengthen partnerships among the public and private sector stakeholders.

Business Success Stories

Minnesota companies are internationally recognized innovators and leaders in renewable energy technology. Here are just a few examples of successful companies revolutionizing the clean technology and renewable energy industries.

Clean Technology Success Stories

Green Chemistry and Biomaterials
Due in part to the state’s long history of innovations in value-added agricultural, Minnesota has become a hotbed of business development and innovation in green, or biobased chemicals. Cargill’s Natureworks, a pioneer in the development of corn based polylactic acid is headquartered in the state. Companies such as Gevo, Reluceo and Segetis also have a presence in Minnesota.

Next Generation Building Technologies
Energy efficient homes are an increasingly hot topic. Minnesota has several companies that are leaders in helping building and homeowners manage energy consumption. Honeywell Building Solutions is headquartered in Minneapolis. While Sage Electrochomics, a producer of dynamic window glass products, recently announced a $110 million expansion in Faribault, Minnesota.

Water Conservation and Filtration
Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes and we take water seriously. Water conservation and filtration companies including Pentair, GE Water and Process Solutions, and Dow Water and Process Solutions call Minnesota home.

For the new Twins baseball stadium, the greenest in the United States, Pentair developed a first-of-its-kind system to capture rainwater that falls on the nearly 7-acre park, treat the harvested rainwater using the company's filtration and pump technology; and then use the treated water to irrigate the field and wash the lower decks of the ballpark.

GE Water and Process Solutions is creating a world-class center of excellence for manufacturing reverse osmosis, nanofiltration and ultrafiltration spiral-wound membranes in Minnetonka. The facility brings together technology development, manufacturing capacity and quality control for membrane production.

Renewable Energy Success Stories

Solar Energy
Minnesota has more annual solar energy potential than Houston and nearly as much as Miami. The state is home to several companies that are innovating in the solar sector.

There are currently four companies, two solar thermal and two solar photo-voltaic that manufacture product in Minnesota. 10-K Solar and Silicon Energy are the photovoltaic companies that call Minnesota home. Silicon Energy recently relocated its manufacturing to Minnesota from the U.S. Northwest.

The value of solar thermal in Minnesota is strong and has given rise to two companies: Solar Skies and RREAL.

Efforts are underway to engage Minnesota manufacturers in the supply chain for solar manufacturing and develop a directory of companies currently serving the industry, or with the capacity and interest to do so.

Minnesota has diverse sources of raw material for use in bioenergy. The Minnesota Biobusiness Alliance has undertaken a thorough assessment of the state's strengths and developed a statewide strategy for bioenergy development

Minnesota was a pioneer in ethanol and biodiesel production. The state is home to 21ethanol facilities and four biodiesel facilities. And there are a several companies others that are exploring innovative opportunities around the conversion of biomass to energy.