Insight News

Feb 12th

The largest solar thermal installation in the midwest unveiled

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Mayor Chris Coleman and Congresswoman Betty McCollum, on March 18, unveiled the largest solar thermal installation in the Midwest. The project was led by District Energy St. Paul, and sits atop the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

 “This installation will stand as a visible reminder of Saint Paul’s commitment toward protecting our greatest resource—the environment. Through incredible community partnerships with organizations like the Saint Paul RiverCentre and District Energy St. Paul, the City has become a leader in sustainability, driving the national conversation on conservation as we strive to improve building efficiency, energy production and our environment throughout Saint Paul,” Coleman said.

“As a chosen participant in the Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities, Saint Paul is showcasing why we are a cutting-edge leader in energy technology.  We provide clean, local, renewable energy that saves consumers money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said McCollum.

Covering roughly half the size of a football field, the installation adds 144 solar thermal collectors to the unprecedented renewable energy district taking shape in Saint Paul. This system also delivers significant environmental benefit, displacing CO2 emissions by 900,000 pounds annually, the equivalent to eliminating 90 vehicles from the road each year.

This project was funded by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar America Communities program and matching funds from District Energy St. Paul.

“Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, over $90 billion has been invested in what TIME Magazine called ‘the most ambitious energy legislation in history.’ Minnesota currently spends $16 billion importing energy from out-of-state sources, mostly for oil and coal. By pioneering the use of solar technology for thermal energy purposes, District Energy St. Paul provides a more efficient model that keeps more of our energy dollars in the local economy while relying on renewable resources,” McCollum added.

District Energy’s high-performing collectors generate hot water to be used for space heating and domestic hot water in the Saint Paul RiverCentre. Once the building’s heating needs are met, the system exports excess solar energy to the hot water distribution network serving downtown Saint Paul.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul are among 25 major U.S. cities working to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies for a cleaner, more secure energy future through DOE’s Solar America Communities program. This solar thermal installation is one of 40 projects that were selected nationwide and the first to be completed.  For more information visit:

This project is the first of many in Saint Paul. The City has secured an additional $1.5 million in federal stimulus funds from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security to install solar on approximately 10 City facilities along the Central Corridor, including: Western District Police Station, St. Anthony Park Recreation Center and Rondo Library. For more information on this project visit:


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