Renewable Energy 101

Media Contacts
Timothy Schaefer

St. Paul, Minnesota — Today, Environment Minnesota, touting the leadership role that colleges and universities must play in the clean energy revolution, unveiled a 10 point plan to guide Minnesota colleges and universities toward 100 percent renewable energy. Renewable Energy 101: Ten Tools for Moving your Campus to 100% Clean Energy includes a series of factsheets highlighting 10 key tools to help build a 100 percent clean, renewable energy system.

“Colleges and universities across the country are situated to lead the charge in the transition to a 100 percent clean energy future,” said Tim Schaefer, director of Environment Minnesota. “We applaud Macalester College’s innovative agreement with SunEdison to purchase 100% of the school’s electricity from community solar gardens. College campuses in Minnesota have the ability and the know-how to lead by taking bold steps like this to shift to clean energy and eliminate pollution from energy use. Minnesota’s college students are passionate, smart, and ready to cast aside outdated ways of thinking.”

According to a recent report by Environment America, colleges and universities serve more than 20 million students and spend more than $15 billion per year on energy, so bold commitments to clean energy can drive big investments in solutions. At the same time, as influential institutions, actions taken by higher education institutions can set an example in hundreds of communities across America; while training the scientists, engineers, policymakers and civic leaders we need to move the nation toward sustainability.

“Macalester College has a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025,” said Macalester College’s Sustainability Manager Dr. Suzanne Savanick Hansen. “Renewable energy both off and on campus will help us get to this goal. Last year, Markim Hall became the first Macalester building to feature solar electric panels that are set to generate 17 thousand kilowatt hours per year and to cut Markim’s energy use by 25%.”

Environment Minnesota, in collaboration with its national network, Environment America, have campaigns for 100 percent renewable energy on dozens of campuses across the country.

Clean energy and energy efficient technologies are growing fast and getting cheaper, making them more accessible. In the past 10 years, the United States has seen a 43-fold increase in solar power and a seven-fold increase in wind power, while the average American now uses 10 percent less energy.

“Minnesota’s clean energy potential is virtually limitless,” said Schaefer. “Cities like Rochester are setting ambitious but achievable goals to go 100% renewable, and there’s a good reason way: it’s a scientific consensus that we need to completely cut our dependence on fossil fuels by 2050 or risk permanent, irreversible damage to the planet. Minnesota’s college campuses are perfectly suited to lead the way to a zero carbon future.”