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Minnesota Solar Panels Less Productive in 2019 Than 2018

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that solar panels in Minnesota were less productive in 2019 than they were in 2018. The capacity factor, or amount of electricity solar panels produced compared to their theoretical maximum output, was just 17.3 percent in 2019, compared to 18.6 percent the year prior. This constitutes a nearly seven percent decline in solar productivity year-over-year. However, 2018 was a record-high year for electricity generated from solar panels because even though solar panels were less productive in 2019 than in 2018, there were more solar panels in service during 2019, helping to make...

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How Falling Production From Wind Turbines Increases the Cost of Wind Energy

Yesterday, we wrote about a newly-released, peer-reviewed study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that found a steep drop off in wind turbine production over the course of a wind turbine's lifetime. The fact that wind turbines produce less electricity as they age has means that most of the cost estimates for electricity generated from wind turbines that don't take this production decline into account are too low. Less Productive Means More Expensive The cost of generating electricity from all power plants is often expressed using a metric called the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), which attempts to figure out the...

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No, Wind Capacity Factors Are Not 50 Percent in Minnesota, And That’s Very Important

Renewable energy advocates in Minnesota often claim that capacity factors for wind, the percentage of electricity generated by a power plant compared to its theoretical output, are sky high in Minnesota, exceeding the 50 percent threshold. Data from the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs show this claim is completely false. As you can see on the map below, there is not a single wind facility in Minnesota that operates above a 50 percent capacity factor.  The results don't get much better as we lower our standards, either. The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the state-wide capacity factor for wind was only 35.9 percent in...

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Minnesota’s Third-Largest Wind Farm is Already Losing Steam: Output Falls 14 percent from 2014 Highs

According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind turbines have operational lifetimes of 20 years, but it appears Xcel Energy's Nobles wind project, the third-largest wind farm in Minnesota, is losing steam after just eight. The graph below was produced using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration plant-level data. It shows the electricity generation of the Nobles wind project, which became operational in 2010, through 2018. You'll notice that electricity generation peaked in 2014, and that generation was about 14 percent lower in 2018, compared to the 2014 production levels. It is important to take note of this decline in electricity production...

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