The Energy Transition in Minnesota: Opportunities, Challenges and the Future of Local, Clean Energy

The Energy Transition in Minnesota: Opportunities, Challenges and the Future of Local, Clean Energy

What is the energy transition?

The energy transition is a term used to describe the global movement away from fossil fuel-based energy, toward clean energy, such as solar and wind energy.

The energy transition is underway. It is evident locally in the proliferation of residential roof-top solar systems, community solar gardens, large commercial solar, wind farms and electric vehicles. Nationally, businesses, utilities and governments are implementing plans to upgrade our electrical infrastructure, reduce emissions and phase out fossil fuel based generation.

Learn more: Everything you need to know about the energy transition

What opportunities can we expect during the energy transition?

The energy transition will have a huge impact on how we generate, distribute and consume energy. We are still in the early stages, especially in the Upper Midwest, but the opportunities are already significant. The next few years are critical to shaping the transition and will determine who will share in the benefits.

For over 100 years, we have built infrastructure and business models around large, centralized electricity plants and a one-way grid. These centralized plants – typically coal, natural gas or oil, – played a key role in industrial advancement; however, technological advancement and an improved understanding of the negative effects of fossil fuel emissions, are driving us towards a smarter way to generate and consume electricity.

Now, the ability to generate renewable energy and manage your own energy infrastructure has created an enormous opportunity for our communities, businesses and individuals. The impacts of this newfound energy choice is far reaching and will drive local sustainability efforts while positively impacting budgets and economics.

The energy transition will be an economic transition. We are already seeing companies choose where to locate large facilities, such as manufacturing plants, data centers and offices based on the local sources and costs of energy. Now, more than ever before, our communities have the tools needed to position our own economies to take advantage of this energy transition.

Nokomis Energy is built to work with communities and businesses, and can help guide you through all of the options to participate in the energy transition and implement clean energy solutions that help you achieve your goals.

What challenges can we expect during the energy transition?

With all of the new choices and opportunities, we will create new challenges and find new questions to answer.

One important question is who holds the right to generate electricity, and how much? For example, much of the Upper Midwest operates as a regulated monopoly utility structure, allowing them to make many of the decisions regarding energy sources.

Some utilities have very progressive programs, policies and rate structures, which allow individuals and organizations to actively participate in the energy transition. For example, they employ very simple and straightforward processes which allow you to easily add solar, wind or storage to your home or business and realize the economic benefits directly.

Others take a more defensive stance to protect their business from what they see as competition. They will often employ time-consuming and costly processes and are only willing to share the economic benefits when forced to through regulation.

Finally, customers can now step up and determine what the future of our energy systems will look like. In many cases changes are needed to the existing structures as we redevelop our energy infrastructures and begin to prioritize the generation of clean, renewable energy.

What role will solar energy play in the energy transition?

Solar energy is an important part of the energy transition. Due to rapidly declining costs, as well as its ability to be deployed in configurations that can be customized to the needs of local communities and businesses, it is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of new energy.

Instead of building large, polluting power plants in rural areas and sending massive amounts of electricity to wherever it is needed, we can now deploy the correct amount of electricity close to where it will be used and optimize the local energy system based on the economics, local energy goals and local resources available.

Communities will adopt a mix of residential rooftop solar, community-scale solar and larger utility-scale solar based on the needs and goals of the people and the region.

We will also see a variety of other types of technologies and projects work in concert with solar energy. For example, electric vehicles and chargers, energy storage, home electrification and smart grid technologies will become more commonplace. Some of these will be deployed on a stand-alone basis, but in many cases they will be integrated into a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electrical system as part of a holistic local energy transition.

How can Minnesotans take advantage of solar energy today?

For residential customers, rooftop solar is a common way to utilize solar energy. There are a variety of local businesses who can design and implement a solar system at your home.

The decision to put solar on your home is similar to other capital projects, such as a new HVAC system, where you will evaluate the costs and benefits and decide what is right for you. Here is a resource link from the Minnesota Department of Commerce with more information.

At Nokomis Energy, we work with organizations such as businesses, utilities, municipalities and schools to develop custom solar solutions.

These systems can be located onsite where electricity is generated on a building, in a field or in a parking lot. There are a variety of financing options for onsite solar, and these types of projects can be a great choice where the goals of the organization and the economics of the project merit.

Nokomis Energy also develops community solar projects throughout the Upper Midwest. In Minnesota, businesses and communities can subscribe to our community solar gardens, which require no changes to property or facilities, and typically require no upfront costs or changes to energy usage. Cost savings are delivered as energy bill credits at a guaranteed rate.


Bonus video content: Brendan Dillon talks solar trends

Watch as Nokomis Partner Brendan Dillon discusses the future of solar with CCX Media’s Shannon Slatton.
Learn about the positive economics of managing your energy supply, the solar options currently available and those in the pipeline.

Click here for a link to the video on CCX’s site.


Nokomis Energy is a clean energy developer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our mission is to identify opportunities to create clean, low-cost energy projects for the people, businesses and communities of the Upper Midwest. We work directly with our customers and partners to implement and build clean energy solutions that work for your specific needs. 

Let’s work together! Contact us to discuss how your business or organization can make the most of the energy transition.