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Solar Energy & Agriculture: Pursuing Win-Win Opportunities

July 9, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Brian Ross

NREL solar panels with pollinator friendly plants

The largest solar farm proposal in the Midwest recently received approval from Wisconsin state regulators. Most of the 3,500-acre Badger Hollow Solar Farm project, which is being developed by Illinois-based Invenergy, is located on active farmland and will include up to 1.2 million solar panels on 2,200 acres of the project area. Some in the community saw the project as a staggering land use change in their community and contrary to the county’s farmland preservation plan. Significant local opposition to the project decried the use of prime agricultural land for solar production.

This case is emblematic of the dilemmas faced by the solar industry, utilities, and those working at the local, state, and federal levels to decarbonize the power sector and increase the use of local renewable energy. The Great Plains Institute is working to address these issues in ways that support solar development and agricultural protection goals. Continue reading »

The Importance of Carbon Capture to Decarbonizing the Electricity Sector

July 8, 2019 in Carbon Management, Electricity Author: Franz Litz

A number of states have set 100-percent clean energy standards or targets for their electricity sectors, with many others openly considering such a goal. In its recently released A Road Map to Decarbonization in the Midcontinent: Electricity Sector, the Midcontinent Power Sector Collaborative (which is convened by the Great Plains Institute) suggests that these 100-percent targets are achievable by 2050 with currently demonstrated technologies. The road map also supports a mid-century strategy that remains open to a mix of very low-carbon and carbon-free resources, including carbon capture. Continue reading »

Major Announcements and Action Typify this Year’s CO2NNECT Conference

July 2, 2019 in Carbon Management Authors: Jill Rook, Patrice Lahlum

Leaders and stakeholders who are catalyzing carbon capture, storage, utilization, and removal efforts in the US recently gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Now in its second year, the CO2NNECT Conference, hosted by the Great Plains Institute (GPI), focused on what deliberate and strategic actions are needed for carbon capture, storage, removal, and utilization to reach its full potential as a national energy, jobs, and emissions reduction solution. Continue reading »

Behind the Wheel: GPI Electric Vehicle Drivers Share Their Experience on Public Radio

June 19, 2019 in News & Press Author: Gail Nosek

Many of our Great Plains Institute (GPI) staffers have become owners of fully-electric vehicles in recent years. Over the last several months, Minnesota Public Radio shared their stories on air. While there are some common threads in their electric vehicle (EV) experiences, some of the differences might surprise you. Read more below and click the links to hear the audio. Continue reading »

Reducing Transportation Emissions Through Better Zoning

June 19, 2019 in Transportation & Fuels Authors: Brian Ross, Clairece Cooke

Local governments across the nation are leading on solutions to address climate change that will bring major benefits to their communities, from cleaner air to saving money on energy bills. Over 400 mayors in the US signed accords to meet the Paris climate goals, and hundreds of American cities have taken the next steps of establishing carbon emission benchmarks, setting carbon reduction or carbon neutrality goals, and creating climate action or energy plans on how to achieve their local goals. Continue reading »

Cities Go to Boot Camp to Overcome Barriers to Renewable Energy Adoption

June 18, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Gail Nosek


When it comes to communities taking action to accelerate sustainability, the peer cohort model is proven to be successful time and time again because it allows people to learn together and learn from each other. To 
build on that success, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and the Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) are creating a network of Minnesota cities focused on identifying and overcoming barriers to renewable energy procurement.
Continue reading »

Value of Utility-Owned Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Highlighted in DTE Rate Case

June 13, 2019 in Efficiency Author: Jamie Scripps

The Michigan Public Service Commission recently approved DTE Energy’s request to develop a 34 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant on the campus of Ford Motor Company’s Research and Engineering Center.¹ This project highlights how ownership of CHP facilities can be a valuable option in a utility’s resource planning and can bring economic and environmental benefits for the utility and its customers over the long term. Due to their size, high efficiency, and grid benefits, utility-owned CHP projects likely offer a better deal to ratepayers than the construction of traditional central power stations.   Continue reading »

Why the Announcement of the World’s Largest Direct Air Capture Project is a Big Deal

June 12, 2019 in Carbon Management Author: Jennifer Christensen

Direct air capture (DAC) technology generates a mix of excitement, skepticism, and optimism as first-mover projects come online, from Iceland to the US. The technology captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from ambient air, which is then used to create products of economic value or stored geologically, thereby removing CO2 from the atmosphere.  Continue reading »

Legislative Outcome on Electric Vehicles in Minnesota—Going Forward by Not Going Backward

June 11, 2019 in Transportation & Fuels Author: Brendan Jordan

We communicated a great deal about electric vehicle (EV) bills in the Minnesota legislature this year given their potential to shape the trajectory of EV adoption in the state. Some of the proposals would have increased EV adoption and infrastructure while others would have put up barriers. Minnesota’s legislature officially adjourned on May 20 and then completed its work in a short special session a few days later. So, what happened on EVs?  Continue reading »

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