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Report: Solar more cost effective than natural gas

Posted July 16

— A new report from a Minnesota university shows adding energy storage may be a cost effective way to help meet the state's electricity demand.

University of Minnesota's Energy Transition Lab presented its report to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission this month, Minnesota Public Radio (http://bit.ly/2u8Mrpj) reported. The commission recommended the state pursue energy storage pilot projects.

Natural gas power plants are typically used during peak demand because they can be ramped up and down quickly. New natural gas plants generating about 1,800 megawatts are planned for the state by 2028 to help meet the peak demand, said lab director Ellen Anderson.

Anderson said the cost of building more solar arrays with batteries is more cost effective than building a conventional plant because the technology is now cheaper and there are federal tax credits which can be applied to facilities.

Minnesota has also adopted policies that can give solar energy projects higher value than fossil fuel energy projects because of the environmental impact.

"What we're seeing is we're right on that precipice where now it's actually today viable to put some in the ground," said Chris Clack with Vibrant Clean Energy.

The report also found the state could better utilize wind energy resources. Wind turbines are currently set to produce less electricity if the energy supply exceeds the demand.

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