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Clean Heat Minnesota: Minnesota building decarbonization analysis shows clean heat is in reach

Today, the Clean Heat Minnesota coalition released a new study that indicates that Minnesota can affordably reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 in the building sector by adopting heat pumps and planning for a smooth transition.

Clean Heat Minnesota commissioned Synapse Energy Economics to analyze how Minnesota could decarbonize its homes and buildings in the most feasible, cost-effective, and equitable ways possible. The analysis modeled energy consumption of electric space heating, water heating, cooking, and clothes drying in residential and commercial buildings — while also measuring the impacts of changes in energy consumption on Minnesota’s gas and electric systems. The study modeled two bookend scenarios: a path that fully electrified heating in Minnesota’s buildings and another that maximized the use of renewable natural gas (RNG), which is a substitute for fossil gas derived from organic matter.

The study found:

  • Both costs and emissions are likely to be lower if Minnesota fully electrifies heat.
  • Gas usage must decrease dramatically to reach net zero. Even under the most optimistic assumptions about its availability, there will only be enough RNG to replace about 16% of the natural gas currently used by homes and businesses.
  • Aggressive adoption of air source heat pumps is a key, immediate strategy, whether Minnesota fully electrifies or relies on RNG in the future.
  • Electricity demand will increase substantially — but the increase is manageable.

A well-managed, intentional transition off natural gas will benefit everyone, including utility companies. The analysis pointed to several important considerations:

  • Clustered, neighborhood-level electrification will keep costs affordable.
  • Accelerated depreciation may be warranted to allow utilities to recover the costs of capital investments.
  • Increased electric demand will lead to lower rates in the long term.
  • Minnesota should assist lower-income people and renters to adopt clean heat technologies.

This study indicates that Minnesota is well positioned to decarbonize our buildings. We hope that it will add to the growing conversation about how to eliminate emissions in Minnesota’s heating sector.

Read the full study below and learn how Clean Heat Minnesota is leading a people-first approach to our gas transition at


Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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