Minnesota Can be a Global Clean Energy Innovation Hub – If We Choose to Lead

The following letter to the editor was published by the Echo Press as submitted by Grid Catalyst founder and president, Nina Axelson. Read the published version at Echo Press.

Minnesota Can Be a Global Clean Energy Innovation Hub – If We Choose to Lead

Clean energy represents the next wave of economic opportunity for Minnesota. Our region has an incredible track record of technology innovation, and we have the talent and leadership to bring these opportunities home. How big is this opportunity?

Global investment in energy transition last year totaled $755 billion, according to BloombergNEF.  The market is already responding to the recent federal action and pending investments, indicating that 2022 numbers will likely break all records for energy technology investments.  Within weeks of signing the Inflation Reduction Act, nearly $28 billion in new manufacturing investment was announced for new US and North American facilities for electric vehicles, charging, and battery storage.

What does this mean for Minnesota? For decades we have been leaders in clean energy deployment, spurred by forward-thinking policy and businesses, growing nearly 60,000 clean energy jobs. According to Clean Energy Economy Minnesota’s jobs report, sector jobs grew 5% last year. Advanced transportation jobs expanded 23% –- a signal that our goal of creating 100,000 clean energy jobs by 2030 is very achievable.

A real-world example is being demonstrated at University of Minnesota-Morris through a partnership between the University, OtterTail Power, and Grid Catalyst cohort member – Darcy Solutions. Darcy is a Minnesota-based startup developing a geothermal approach that is more efficient and cost-effective. It’s a stellar example of what’s possible here.

There is urgency in this opportunity. Other states are lining up to compete for new business and jobs. To be hesitant now hands other regions the opportunity to sell us technology that Minnesota could have developed. Failure to act means missing out on a generations’ worth of economic development.

I urge our partners and regional leadership to seize this opportunity with ambition and collaboration. Let’s invest in making Minnesota a regional and global leader in energy and cleantech.



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Nina Axelson

Grid Catalyst was founded in 2021 by Nina Axelson, an industry leader with nearly 20 years of experience in energy and sustainability. Previously, Nina was the VP of Sustainability for Ever-Green Energy and served on the board of the International District Energy Association.

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