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Newly released in Beta: State Energy Portal featuring customizable dashboards and more state data. Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile (overview, data, & analysis) Last Updated: May 21, 2020. Minnesota plays an important role in moving fossil fuels to markets across the Midwest and beyond. Located in the upper Midwest, Minnesota is one of the largest Midwestern states and extends further north than any of the other Lower 48. 1,2 Although Minnesota has no fossil fuel reserves or production, the state plays an important role in moving fossil fuels to markets throughout the Midwest and beyond. 3,4,5,6 The Mississippi River's headwaters are in Minnesota, and about 200 miles of the upper reaches of the river flow through the state. 7 Ports along the river handle dry and liquid commodities including coal and petroleum, as well as half of the state's agricultural exports. 8 Lake Superior, the world's largest fresh water lake by surface area, forms Minnesota's northeastern border and is the waterway that plays the most significant role in energy transport.
9,10 Duluth-Superior, Minnesota's largest port on Lake Superior, is at the western end of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, which connects the Port of Duluth to worldwide shipping. Coal from Wyoming and Montana is transferred from rail to ship at Duluth to move east. 11,12 Most of the crude oil that is shipped east by rail from North Dakota also travels through Minnesota. 13 Additionally, several pipelines bring North Dakota crude oil into the state, and other pipelines move Canadian supplies of crude oil from the north to Minnesota's refineries and on to other U.S. Winds that move unobstructed across the state's broad southern prairies provide energy for electricity generation. 15 Minnesota's rolling plains are covered by fertile topsoil, giving the state some of the nation's richest farmland, which, along with the 17 million acres of forest that cover about one-third of the state's land area, provide Minnesota with ample biomass resources. 16,17,18 The state's abundant cornfields produce Minnesota's most valuable crop and provide feedstock for the state's many fuel ethanol production plants. 19,20,21 With almost 70,000 miles of natural streams and rivers, the state's waterways are a hydropower resource. Minnesota's climate is known for Arctic chills in the winter. While the northern part of the state has reported freezing temperatures in every month of the year, southern Minnesota can experience prolonged hot weather in the summer when warm air pushes up from the Gulf of Mexico. Even so, Minnesota's per capita energy consumption is less than nearly two-fifths of the states. 25,26 The industrial sector, which includes the energy-intensive food processing, chemical products manufacturing, petroleum refining, agriculture, mining, and paper manufacturing industries, leads the state in end-use energy consumption, accounting for more than one-third of state use. The transportation sector is second, consuming about one-fourth, followed by the residential sector, which accounts for more than one-fifth. The commercial sector is the least energy-intensive sector in the state, but consumes almost one-fifth, slightly less energy than the residential sector. Although coal-fired power plants provide the largest share of Minnesota's electricity net generation, their contribution fell below half for the first time in at least three decades in 2012 and declined to less than one-third in 2019. 30 The state's largest power plant by capacity and generation is a coal-fired plant, which has a generating capacity more than twice that of the next largest power plant, a nuclear generating station. 31 The state's two nuclear power plants, located on the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota, typically provide about one-fourth of state generation. 32,33,34 Almost all the rest of Minnesota's electricity generation comes from wind, which supplied 19% of the state's electricity net generation in 2019, and natural gas, which fueled 18%. Smaller amounts of electricity are generated from solar energy, biomass, and conventional hydropower. Electricity generated by Minnesota’s independent power producers has increased markedly since 2001. Most of the electricity generated in Minnesota is produced by electric utilities; however, the amount provided by independent power producers has increased markedly in the past two decades. 36 In 2019, independent power producers accounted for more than one-fifth of Minnesota's net generation.
37 Most of that electricity was generated using wind energy, and the rest was primarily fueled by solar energy and natural gas. Independent power producers also generate electricity using biomass and conventional hydroelectric power. Minnesotans consume more electricity than is generated in the state, and during the past decade they have received as much as one-fifth of the electricity they use each year from other states via the regional grid. 39 Electricity retail sales are nearly equally divided among the residential, industrial, and commercial end-use sectors. 40 Almost one-fifth of Minnesota households use electricity for home heating. Per capita electricity retail sales to the residential sector are lower than in almost two-thirds of the states. Renewable energy resources provided one-fourth of Minnesota's in-state electricity generation in 2019. Wind power provided most of the renewable generation and accounted for about one-fifth of the state's generation from all sources. 43 Minnesota is among the top 10 states in the nation in installed generating capacity and net generation from wind.
The state is also among the 10 with the largest share of total generation from wind. 44 Most of Minnesota's numerous wind farms are located on the gently rolling prairie in the southwestern part of the state. The amount of power generated from solar energy in Minnesota has increased markedly since 2013 when the state set a goal of 10% of electricity retail sales from solar by 2030. In 2019, solar energy provided almost 3% of the state's net generation, most of it from utility-scale facilities with at least 1 megawatt of generating capacity.