Energy experts discuss future of clean energy in ND

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In recognition of the first-annual American Clean Power Week, Powering North Dakota held a panel of energy experts to discuss the future of renewable and low C02 emission energy in North Dakota.

North Dakota has an abundance of wind and solar energy, but the greatest obstacle is getting renewable energy on the transmission grid. Right now about 30 percent of electricity on the grid comes from renewable sources. When it comes to adding renewables to the grid, cost is often at the center of the conversation.

As KX has reported, North Dakota Transmission Authority Director John Weeda says it costs about $1 million dollars per mile to construct new transmission infrastructure in North Dakota. However, Co-founder of Bismarck solar company Lightspring LLC, Ryan Warner says there’s a new way to think about energy transmission.

“Transmission lines are required for utility-scale operations, so if you’re a multi-megawatt installation you have to have these high voltage DC lines to transmit the electricity somewhere else usually out of state to an out of state market, however for a smaller-scale installation for a commercial size or residential size, you don’t need transmission. You size those installations to meet the onsite consumption requirements of that business or that house and by doing so you can get more renewable energy on the lines, but you don’t have to transmit it so it kinda get around the transmission issue,” explained Warner.

Governor Doug Burgum’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2030 is challenging industries on both sides to innovate and work together. During the last legislative session, lawmakers established the Clean and Sustainable Energy Authority to provide $25 million dollars in grants and up to $250 million in low-interest loans from the Bank of North Dakota to help fund large-scale projects that can demonstrate reduced C02 emissions.

North Dakota Clean Sustainable Energy Authority Director Al Anderson says North Dakota will reach a state of net-zero C02 emissions by balancing reduced emissions from fossil fuels coupled with expanding renewable energy sources.

“It includes everything from C02 sequestration for some of the fossil fuels side to improved battery management on the renewables side, so there’s a large different group of projects that will come forward, and it’s an exciting time to be in North Dakota,” explained Anderson.

The Clean Sustainable Energy Authority’s $25 million grant application deadline is November 1st.

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