MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new report predicts that by 2050 solar and wind power could account for 70 percent of Minnesota’s electricity needs, and do so at costs comparable to new natural gas generation.

Last week, the MN Solar Pathways Initiative, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, released a 99-page report on the possible landscape of Minnesota’s renewable energy future.

The study says that by 2025, Minnesota could likely achieve 10 percent solar power at costs comparable to new natural gas generation. Currently, the state is on course to reach a solar electric standard of 1.5 percent by the end of 2020.

Moreover, with the costs of solar and wind energy expected to decrease in the coming decades, the study predicts that 70 percent of the state’s power could come from renewable wind and solar energy by 2050. Again, the study says, this could be achieved at costs comparable to natural gas generation, meaning that the state wouldn’t have to rely heavily on taxpayers to realize a cleaner energy future.

Already, Minnesota has achieved a 25 percent renewable electricity standard by using a combination of solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower. This particular goal was set for 2025, but the state hit it this year.

Earlier this month, Minnesotans elected Tim Walz to the governor’s office. During his campaign, the now governor-elect promised to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and work toward getting Minnesota to reach 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

He also wants to grow the state’s clean energy economy. Already, there are more than 59,000 Minnesotans working in the sector. Some 2,700 jobs are expected to be added in clean energy economy next year.

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