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EGEB: Minnesota’s Xcel Energy to close coal and add solar, big Kansas wind project, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • Xcel Energy shifting to solar — and more — as it plans to phase out coal in Minnesota by 2030.
  • Construction has started on a large wind project in Kansas.
  • The Brits are helping the US with offshore wind, as coastal populations adjust to turbines.
  • A small Canadian town looks to hit 100% renewable energy by next year.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, looks to get to 100% carbon-free energy by 2050. And it has unveiled a new plan that hopes to help the utility hit that target.

Coal, nuclear, and solar are at the core of how Xcel plans to get there. As the Star-Tribune reports, the utility plans to close two coal-fired power plants early and end coal generation in the state entirely by 2030. Xcel plans to triple the amount of solar power generation by the same year, as well.

However, Xcel is also aiming to extend the life of a nuclear plant another decade, to 2040. There are also plans to build a new natural gas power plant in the next decade.

It’s a mixed bag here, and while Xcel is getting out of coal, the utility is clearly looking to fill in some gaps with nuclear and gas. The Star-Tribune points out that although Xcel operates wind farms and is building more, the company’s latest plan doesn’t call for any new wind projects in the next five years. Perhaps that would be a better option?

Kansas Wind

Construction began a few weeks ago on the 200 megawatt Reading Wind Facility in Kansas, Renewable Energy Systems announced. Once completed in 2020, the project will generate roughly 760,000 MWh per year, enough to power 70,000 homes. RES offered further details:

Southern Power, which announced it acquired the project from RES in October 2018, will operate and maintain the facility upon completion in the second quarter of 2020. The project consists of 62 Siemens Gamesa wind turbines and the energy output will be sold to Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. under a 12-year PPA.

England to New England

PRI has a look at the offshore wind industry in New England, including how the region is getting some help from old England:

Harriet Cross, the British consul general to New England, wants to share her country’s expertise to help kick-start the movement in the US. Yes, that would mean making money for British companies who could sell technology and equipment in the US. But Cross says there are also higher stakes at play.

While that’s one part of the story, another segment focuses on the local fishermen who will see their livelihood affected by the giant turbines popping up in the water. The goal, of course, is to get the wind industry and fishing industry on the same page so the two can co-exist without issue.

Small Town Green

Bauline, a small town in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada with a population of about 450 people, is on track to get its entire community running on green energy by 2020.

The town is aiming to have a small wind turbine, 200 solar panels, and a micro-hydro turbine at a local creek all up and running by next year to hit the goal, the CBC reports. Bauline is also hoping to install more EV charging stations.

Bauline came up with the idea of going all green in 2017, and it could get there in three short years. It’s a good example of how small communities, on their own, can reach such goals quickly. Town councillor Chris Palmer said,

“But also environmentally, it’s a reasonable thing to do. The project is not just — I mean, at the moment it is to have the public buildings having green energy, but the long-term goal is for the … residents in the community, maybe they get an advantage in 10 years’ time. If we have half of Bauline interested in getting their energy from solar sources, why not?”

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