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. 46 Biomass fueled slightly more than 2% of Minnesota's electricity generation. 47 Most of the state's landfill gas and municipal solid waste generating plants are located in more densely populated areas in southern Minnesota, and most of the generating plants that use wood waste are found in the more heavily forested areas in northern Minnesota. 48,49 About 2% of the state's households heat with wood. 50 Minnesota has additional biomass resources from agricultural crop residues. 51 Additionally, more than two dozen small hydroelectric power plants in central and eastern Minnesota generate about 2% of the state's electricity. Minnesota is one of the top five ethanol-producing states and accounts for about 8% of U.S. Minnesota is among the nation's top five ethanol-producing states and accounts for about 8% of U.S. 55 There are 19 fuel ethanol production plants in Minnesota, all of which use corn as a feedstock. 56,57 All of the state's ethanol plants are located in agriculturally rich southwestern Minnesota, where most of the state's farmland is located.
58,59 In addition, Minnesota has three biodiesel plants with a combined capacity of about 85 million gallons per year, which is 3.4% of the nation's total. 60 The state has a biodiesel mandate that requires that diesel fuel sold in Minnesota contain at least 20% biodiesel from April through September. Diesel fuel can contain less than 20% biodiesel from April 1 to April 14 but not less than 10%, and must be at least 5% biodiesel during the rest of the year.
61 Minnesota is one of the top five biodiesel consumers in the nation. Minnesota's renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) applies to all electricity providers in the state. It requires that the state's utilities, with the exception of the state's largest utility, generate or procure at least 25% of electricity retail sales from eligible renewable sources by 2025. The state's largest utility had to obtain 30% of its retail electricity sales from renewable energy by the end of 2020. All public utilities in the state had a further obligation to acquire 1.5% of all retail electricity sales from solar energy by 2020.