Pilot Project Gets Solar Panels in Sync with Electric Vehicle Chargers

January 9, 2020 in Electricity, Transportation & Fuels Author: Maggie Kristian

Electric car plugged into charging station used for solar synchronization pilot projectWhat if we could harness the energy produced by the sun and maximize its potential to power electric vehicles (EVs) with zero-carbon electricity? That’s exactly what GPI has been working on in a pilot project that studies how managed EV charging can pull varying levels of power from the solar panels on our rooftop based on how much solar is being produced at a given time. This ability to use “solar synchronization” could have big implications for reducing carbon emissions in both the electricity and transportation sectors, and presents potential benefits for consumers and businesses alike. Continue reading »

Analysis: Rooftop Solar Can Provide Year-Round Electricity—Even in the Bold North

December 19, 2019 in Electricity, Transportation & Fuels Authors: Dane McFarlane, Elizabeth Abramson

When it comes to solar energy, a common question is how electricity generation will be affected by seasonal shifts or daily changes in the weather. These variations become especially important when households and businesses consider using rooftop solar panels to serve their electricity needs, such as for charging electric vehicles (EVs). By analyzing a full year of data collected from the solar array on the Great Plains Institute’s own rooftop, paired with the electric vehicle chargers at our building, we have gathered insights to answer to this question.  
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Approval of Xcel Energy’s Electric Vehicle Pilots Highlights Key Considerations for Electric Utilities

December 12, 2019 in Electricity, Transportation & Fuels Author: Trevor Drake

 

Following a stakeholder engagement process facilitated by the Great Plains Institute in 2018, Xcel Energy received approval and is moving forward in Minnesota with new electric vehicle (EV) pilot programs.  

As investor-owned electric utilities seek to meet the needs of shareholders, consumers, and the environment, EVs offer a unique opportunity. If implemented carefully, utility investments in EV infrastructure and programs can provide a series of benefits, including new sources of utility revenue, better services for EV drivers, reduced costs for all consumers by making the electric system more efficient, and reduced pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading »

Engaging Communities on Utility-Scale Wind & Solar Development in the Midwest: Part III, Local Readiness and Decision-Making

December 10, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

 

Wind turbines and farmland

Community-scale readiness is critical to the successful development of the Midwest’s abundant solar and wind energy resources. As utility-scale wind and solar development increases in the Midwest, communities should consider how renewable energy development aligns with local goals and values. A series of proactive actions can ensure that the way utility-scale renewables develop in a community is in line with community vision, reduces potential conflict, and optimizes co-benefits. Continue reading »

GPI Goes to the Movies: The Current War

November 26, 2019 in Electricity Authors: Katelyn Bocklund, Maggie Kristian

Three hanging light bulbsOn occasion, Great Plains Institute (GPI) staff like to venture into the world of pop culture, especially when that pop culture has to do with our favorite topic—energy. Some GPI staff attended the recent film The Current War, which dives into the origins of our modern electric grid system and the inventors, investors, and engineers that made it happen. Two of our staff members shared some thoughts about that battle over who would create the modern electric grid and the critical work ahead to transform the grid for a low-carbon future.

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Solar Energy & Natural Systems: Exploring Co-Benefit Opportunities

November 21, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Brian Ross, Katharine Chute

A pollinator test plot underneath the PV array at the Chisago Solar Site, part of the Aurora Solar Project in Minnesota. NREL scientist Jordan Macknick is researching the economical and ecological affect of pollinator plants planted underneath the PV array

Solar projects can be designed and sited to meet natural resource conservation goals. Capturing the natural resource co-benefit opportunities of solar development will involve creative partnerships, targeted spatial planning, and rethinking site and project design. Continue reading »

Engaging Communities on Utility-Scale Wind & Solar Development in the Midwest: Part II, Local Considerations

October 7, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

The lowering cost of wind and solar energy generation has a local impact: communities are going to see more wind and solar development projects, more often. Communities see many of the direct impacts from these developments, from tax revenues to opportunities for co-beneficial land uses to managing resident feedback on such development. Many local considerations and indicators can help communities understand opportunities for maximizing local co-benefits as the market continues to increase for utility-scale solar and wind development. Continue reading »

Approval of a Wisconsin Transmission Project Marks a Major Milestone for Clean Energy in the Midwest

September 11, 2019 in Electricity Authors: Matt Prorok, Rolf Nordstrom

In 2007, a bipartisan group of seven governors announced ground-breaking energy and climate agreements that would go on to shape the region’s energy system. Over a decade later, Wisconsin regulators recently approved the capstone transmission project, the last in a set of 17 “multi-value transmission projects” (MVPs) across the region representing $6.5 billion in investment that grew out of those original agreementsThe MVP portfolio’s 17 projects will enable over 16 GW of wind generation to come online, delivering 52 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy throughout the MISO footprint through 2031. Put another way, without these lines, over 60 percent of the renewable energy needed to meet the region’s renewables goals through 2031 would have been curtailed.  Continue reading »

e21 Forum Highlights Four Areas of Energy Innovation Across Minnesota

September 10, 2019 in Electricity Author: Trevor Drake

Minnesota energy stakeholders came together at the end of August to learn about four areas of innovation happening across the state’s energy system. The event was put on by the e21 Initiative, a collaborative effort between the Great Plains Institute and Center for Energy and Environment that convenes diverse stakeholder groups to help shape and advance a decarbonized, customer-centric, and technologically modern energy system in Minnesota.

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Engaging Communities on Utility-Scale Wind & Solar Development in the Midwest: Part I, Market Drivers

September 9, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Authors: Jenna Greene, Jessi Wyatt

In the Midwest, powerful market drivers are creating an attractive environment for investors and developers to build more renewable energy projects and infrastructure. Declining technology costs for utility-scale wind and solar are combined in the region with an abundance of wind and solar resources. As utility-scale renewable energy projects increase across the region, it is important for communities to have an understanding of these market drivers and to prepare for project development and siting. Continue reading »