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April 2019 Renewable News

4/11/2019 1:33:37 PM

Welcome to Renewable News, where you will find the latest news and information on a wide range of renewable energy topics.

Renewable News

Clean Energy

Report: Clean energy jobs in Minnesota increase nearly 5% to over 61,000

More than 61,000 Minnesotans now work in the clean energy industries after adding 2,737 jobs in 2018, according to the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest Report, an analysis of energy jobs data from Clean Energy Trust (CET) and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). Clean energy jobs in Minnesota grew by 4.7%, or 2.5 times faster than the overall state job market (which grew 1.9%). Minnesota also experienced the region’s strongest renewable energy generation job growth—11.8%—despite the sector struggling on the national level. Energy efficiency jobs continue to be the largest sector for Minnesota clean energy employment, with three out of every four clean energy jobs in the state. Clean energy employers in Minnesota project adding more than 4,400 clean energy jobs in 2019, a 7.3% increase. The Clean Jobs Report was released April 9 by Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening Minnesota’s clean energy business ecosystem. To view the entire report and for comments from Gov. Tim Walz, Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley, and CEEM Executive Director Gregg Mast, read more.

New factsheet reveals dramatic cost declines for renewable energy in MN

The rapid cost declines for renewable energy have enabled the industry to deliver the lowest cost electricity options in Minnesota, according to the 2019 Minnesota State Energy Factsheet, released last month. The findings show that renewables are the second largest source of electricity generation in Minnesota for the second year in a row and come at a time when state legislators and Governor Tim Walz are proposing to transition the state’s electricity generation to 100% clean energy by 2050. The Factsheet is a companion to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, compiled by research firm BloombergNEF for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). 

A few highlights from this year’s Minnesota Factsheet include:

  • The cost of wind and solar in Minnesota declined 16% and 23% respectively over the past year. For example: cost of wind = $38/MWh unsubsidized compared to last year when Minnesota wind levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) came in at $45/MWh unsubsidized. With subsidies Minnesota wind is now $26/MWh.
  • Renewable generation jumped 37% from 2013 to 2018 and accounted for 25% of the state’s total electricity generation mix, making it the second largest source of electricity in Minnesota.
  • Wind alone produced 18% of total Minnesota power in 2018.
  • Minnesota now has 508 MW of community solar online, the most of any state in the nation. Over 100 community solar gardens were added in the state in 2018.
  • Natural gas generation was 15.3% of the Minnesota electricity mix in 2018.
  • The total average monthly electricity bill for Minnesota households was $97.58 in 2017 (the last year for which data is available); this is 13% below the national average.

Health, safety measures show weatherization is about more than saving energy

The state’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is best known for its energy-saving benefits to low-income Minnesotans, saving most households about $300 per year on their energy bills. However, Kathy, a single mom with two children from west central Minnesota, and others who have received weatherization can tell you there’s much more to WAP than sealing air leaks and adding insulation. Read a new WAP success story to learn how WAP protects the health of clients by performing safety assessments to detect carbon monoxide, mold, moisture, and other health hazards in homes it serves.

ACEEE: Commercial PACE financing is saving lots of energy

Property-assessed clean energy (PACE), a popular long-term financing tool for clean energy projects, has grown quickly in recent years across the United States, according to a recent blog published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The PACE market increased by 75% from 2016 to 2017, completing $251 million in funding by the end of 2017, according to PACENation, a private advocacy group. The impact is significant. Commercial PACE funding has cumulatively saved 6.3 billion kWh, about equal to the electricity used by 25,000 commercial office buildings each year. To date, 36 states (including Minnesota) and the District of Columbia have passed PACE-enabling legislation, the first step in giving customers access to this financing tool. Read more

Hyundai vehicles top ACEEE’s GreenerCars ratings

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric and the Hyundai Ioniq Blue topped the list of greenest, most efficient vehicles, according to the 22nd GreenerCars ratings, released recently by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The release includes the vast majority of model year 2019 vehicles, but ACEEE will score the missing ones in coming months and give them a fair shot at the Greenest List. The 2019 Greenest List (see below) features the most environmentally friendly cars now available. Each car is given a Green Score based on an environmental damage index (EDX), which reflects the cost to human health from air pollution associated with vehicle manufacturing, the production and distribution of fuel or electricity, and vehicle tailpipes. Topping the Meanest List, or the worst vehicles for the environment, were the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk 4X4 and the Toyota Sequoia. 

Greenest                                 EDX        Green Score
1. Hyundai Ioniq Electric         0.68             67
2. Hyundai Ioniq Blue             0.74               65
3. BMW i3                                0.74             65
4. Honda Clarity Electric          0.76             64
5. Kia Soul Electric                     0.79                63
6. Nissan Leaf                         0.79                 63
7. Honda Insight                     0.79                  63
8. Hyundai Kona Electric        0.80               63
9. Volkswagen e-Golf             0.81                62
10. Toyota Camry Hybrid LE   0.81               62

MN Cup is accepting applications for 2019 startup competition

MN Cup, the largest statewide competition to incentivize new business creation, is accepting applications for its 2019 competition. More than 15,000 Minnesota entrepreneurs have participated in MN Cup since its inception in 2005. Participants have gone on to successfully launch their businesses, raise capital, and create jobs in Minnesota. By entering MN Cup, entrepreneurs will be challenged to think critically about their idea of new business, have the opportunity to network at a variety of events, and gain access to a variety resources. MN Cup has awarded over $2 million in seed money and offers advancing participants business planning support, mentorship, exposure, feedback from investors, access to exclusive events, and professional connections. You can apply in several categories, including “Energy/Clean Technology/Water.” Standard applications are due April 26 and Youth Division (under age 18) applications are due May 12. Read more to apply

Solar News

State Solar Jobs Report: Twin Cities, St. Cloud are leaders in MN solar jobs

The Twin Cities and St. Cloud have the most solar workers in Minnesota, according to a State Solar Job Facts report released March 20 by The Solar Foundation. The Twin Cities metro area employed 4,156 solar workers of the total 4,602 solar jobs in Minnesota as of 2018, while St. Cloud employed 365. Leading job-getters by county were Hennepin (3,512), Stearns (365), and Ramsey (213). The report found that about 70% of Minnesota’s solar jobs were in the installation area. It projects solar job growth of 6.2% for Minnesota in 2019. Learn more about Minnesota solar jobs.

DOE announces $130 million in funding is available for solar research 

The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 (SETO FY2019) funding program will provide $130 million in funding for up to 80 projects that will advance research in solar energy technologies. The funding program, announced in late March, will target five research areas: photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP), soft costs reduction, innovations in manufacturing, and solar systems integration. These projects will help achieve the solar office’s goal of improving the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more about SETO’s goals. Mandatory letters of intent are due May 7, 2019 and full applications are due July 25, 2019. View full details of the solar funding opportunity.

Solar-powered vet clinic is first business financed by PACE in Lake County

Mike Overend and Lucy Grina, co-owners of Lake County Veterinary Clinic in Two Harbors and Grand Marais, have been caring for animals since 1987. To care for the environment and the bottom line of their business, they recently installed an 11.5 kW solar system that provides all of the clinic’s electricity (except for off-peak heating) for a grand total of about 15,000 kWh annually. The project was the first business to use Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in Lake County. The project was highlighted by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs). Read more.


Wind News

Wind industry 2018 annual report documents increasing wind capacity, jobs

The American wind power industry emerged from 2018 stronger than ever, now able to power 30 million American homes after 8% capacity growth last year, according to the newly released “U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2018.” The report reveals that U.S. wind power supports a record 114,000 American jobs, over 500 domestic factories, and more than $1 billion a year in revenue for states and communities that host wind farms.

Some key Minnesota statistics culled from 2018 annual report include:

  • There has been $7.4 billion of cumulative investment in wind projects in rural Minnesota, primarily in low-income counties.
  • Wind projects deliver $10-15 million/year in land lease payments to landowners in Minnesota.
  • Wind projects make about $15 million/year in wind production tax payments, lowering property taxes in those counties.
  • Minnesota ranked seventh in the nation in 2018 for both cumulative wind capacity (3,778 MW) and amount of energy generated from wind (11,346 MWh, enough to power 1.09 million homes).
  • 18% of Minnesota’s electricity was generated by wind in 2018.

Read more on the report from the American Wind Energy Association.

KidWind’s Clean Energy Discovery Day is Saturday, April 13 in Saint Paul

Young people of all ages are invited to learn the basics of solar and wind energy through hands-on building and activities on Saturday, April 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the KidWind Clean Energy Discovery Day at Metro State University Student Center (690 E. Seventh Street in Saint Paul). The event runs parallel to the KidWind MN Renewable Energy Challenge competition and is open to any interested students, teachers, and the public. You can build and test your own wind turbine or solar fountain while also observing the competitors in the Challenge competition. Please register to help event organizers plan accordingly. 

Conferences and Expos

Midwest Solar Expo is May 1-2 in Minneapolis

The Midwest Solar Expo will be held May 1-2 at the Radisson Blu in downtown Minneapolis. The Expo will bring together more than 450 solar, clean energy and utility executives for two days of networking, deal-making, interactive sessions, all-star speakers, exhibitions, and parties. This year’s conference will cover the latest developments in the Midwest’s residential, commercial and utility solar markets, including topics ranging from project finance, community solar, and policy to emerging opportunities in energy storage, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, fuel cells, and beyond. Read more.

MREA’s Energy Fair is June 21-23 in Custer, Wis.

Talk about perfect timing. The Energy Fair, the nation’s longest-running event of its kind at 30 years, will take place on June 21-23 in Custer, Wis., and will provide a great setting to celebrate the summer solstice (June 21). The Energy Fair is organized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and brings together over 10,000 attendees to learn about sustainability and clean energy, connect with others, and take action toward a sustainable future. The event features inspirational keynote speakers; lively entertainment and great food; over 200 exhibitors; 200 workshops covering sustainable living topics, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and more; and a Clean Transportation Show that features exhibitors, vehicles, and demos. Read more.

ASES National Solar Conference is Aug. 5-9 in Bloomington, Minn.

The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) will hold its 48th annual National Solar Conference on Aug. 5-9 at the Crowne Plaza AiRE in Bloomington, Minn. The conference is unique in its delivery of cutting-edge research, trends, and analysis and provides a venue for the exchange of ideas, information, business insights, and perspectives on progress toward greater sustainability. Participants generally represent a broad base of solar and renewable energy professionals and thought leaders. The conference will feature technical sessions, forum discussions, plenary panels, presentations, public solar displays, and networking events. Early bird registration offers a $100 discount and ends June 15. Read more to register and for details.

2019 Gateway to Solar Conference is Oct. 21-22 in Minneapolis

Save the date! Oct. 21-22 are the dates for the 2019 Gateway to Solar Conference, the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) has announced. The annual conference is Minnesota’s largest industry-led solar trade group conference and will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. Read more.

Electric Vehicles

Minnesota lays out vision for accelerating electric vehicle adoption

The Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Great Plains Institute recently combined to create Accelerating Electric Vehicle Adoption: A Vision for Minnesota, the first coordinated attempt to outline a statewide vision for increasing EV use. The report describes strategies for achieving the goal of powering 20% of light-duty cars in the state with electricity by 2030. It provides background on EVs, describes current efforts to support use, and outlines strategies for their continued growth. It also supports strategic future investments in EV charging infrastructure. Read more.

MPCA offers grants to install EV charging stations for fleet vehicles

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently released a request for proposal to install Level 2 and/or Level 3 electric vehicle charging stations at Minnesota locations serving fleet vehicles. This program is intended to reduce air emissions through increased use of EVs for fleet purposes in an effort to support a healthy environment for all Minnesotans and achieve emissions reductions across the state, especially in high population areas most impacted by vehicle pollution. Eligible applicants include fleet owners at for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and public entities including state, tribes, counties, municipalities, schools, and higher education institutions. The maximum award is $5,000 per single-station and $10,000 per dual-station with a 25% minimum match. Deadline to apply is May 7, 2019. Learn more.


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