100% Renewables Not A Pipe Dream, Study Shows

Minnesota Could Be Completely Powered by Solar and Wind

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted March 14, 2012

Many skeptics see solar and wind as holding little more potential than the small percentages they currently offer to total grid power.

But the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, a group based in Takoma Park, Maryland, see the potential for 100% in certain regions.

According to a study released Tuesday, March 13, the state of Minnesota could feasibly receive all its electricity needs from solar and wind power as long as it had sufficient energy storage and some improvements on the grid.

Reducing damage on the grid would be a major necessity before the transformation process could achieve reality, but the study proves that full power from renewables is not unlikely.

Of course, it won’t happen overnight, or even at minimal cost increase.  Electricity prices would probably increase from 10.6 cents per kilowatt to about 13.6 cents.

And the time frame for necessary grid improvements, as well as actual solar and wind project construction, would come in at about 40 years.

But the study also determined that by that time, the state would need a replacement for its already old, more pollutive energy sources.

The research explained how wind energy could be captured and stored at peak times, saved up and acting as a battery in times when there were lulls.

For now, Minnesota is aiming at a goal to obtain 25% of its energy from renewables by 2025 and for Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), the utility based in Minneapolis, to be 30% renewable by 2020.

But as Makhijani said, the improvements necessary for the high, 100% goal would take more time anyway.  And it could be a possibility in the not-so-distant future.

Xcel, the largest wind power company in the U.S., told the Pioneer Press that it has faith in renewable sources:

“Because it is good for customers and the environment, we will continue to look to add renewable resources onto our system if it makes economical sense.”

The company said it was on track to meet its 2020 renewable targets.