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Aurora Solar Project, USA

In operation

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About the plant

Where sustainable energy and ecosystem services meet

The 150 MWdc Aurora Solar plant located in Minnesota began operations in 2017. It consists of 16 different sites and can generate over 210 million kWh annually, equivalent to the energy consumption needs of over 17,000 US households, while avoiding CO2 emissions of over 150,000 tons into the atmosphere each year.  Aurora is Enel Green Power ’s third solar project built in the US, after the existing solar facilities of Stillwater in Nevada and Sheldon Springs in Vermont. 

Technology

Solar

Status

Operative

Capacity

150 MW

Energy production

210 million kWh annually 

CO2 Emissions avoided

150,000 tons annually 

Electricity needs

+17,000 US households annually

Timeline

Milestones

Start of construction

Construction begins on the project in Minnesota

 Start of operations

Enel Green Power announces that Aurora Solar has begun operations 

Xcel Energy PPA

Enel Green Power and Xcel Energy announce the utility provider will purchase power from the Aurora solar plant

NREL study

Enel Green Power and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory announce a three-year study on solar vegetation 

Our Corporate Partners

The  Aurora solar plant delivers renewable energy to Xcel Energy, enabling  them to provide solar energy to their customers and achieve their goals to be 63% carbon free by 2030. 

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Community Impact

Enel Green Power is committed to creating long-term shared value in the communities where we live and work. In doing such, we have implemented initiatives to generate a positive impact on the communities of Minnesota. At the Aurora solar project, we’ve implemented a unique sustainability program to benefit the plant’s surrounding ecosystem and the community at large, what is known as dual-use solar. The concept of dual-use solar describes co-developing an area of land for both solar photovoltaic power as well as for other purposes considering land use, environmental and ecosystem services derived from, for example, the planting of native vegetation and pollinator friendly crops. Aurora was designed for dual-use solar from the onset, with low-growing meadows, grazing sheep to manage the grounds without the sound or air pollution of traditional mowing maintenance, and beekeeping co-ops which enhance vegetation practices and help protect wildlife and ecosystems.

Enel Green Power partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on its InSPIRE project to research insects and pollinator friendly habitats. Bare Honey, a local food producer, uses these pollinator habitats to produce organic honey, which inspired a local microbrewery to use it in one of their offerings. Furthermore, Enel collaborated with the International Darksky.org association to decrease outdoor light pollution by adopting retrofit LED lighting which mitigates impacts on wildlife, ecosystems and human health. We’re also using our real-world experience to help students learn. Enel has partnered with the Sand County Foundation, the state chapter of Future Farmers for America (FFA), and Pheasants Forever to enhance educational resources and opportunities across the state of Minnesota in building awareness and knowledge of vegetation management practices that encourage pollinator friendly landscapes.

Work progress status

Status of construction phase

Enel Green Power is committed to a sustainable worksite model. When we build projects, we monitor performance for energy, waste and water management, and the social and economic impact on the local community.  Aurora Solar integrates dual-use solar applications and pollinator friendly habitats into its model through a partnership with the NREL InSPIRE project. Its focus is on regenerative agriculture, providing ecosystem services and improving operational efficiencies.

Workers 400

Workers 400 Construction jobs 

Investment 290

Investment 290 Million dollars in local investment

Local Operations

The operations and maintenance building is located in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

 

Digital Initiatives

We use drones with infrared cameras for heat maps powered by Raptor Maps and ultrasound and IR cameras for predictive maintenance.

Discover Aurora’s sustainable side

Related contents

Contacts

Community and landowners inquiries

David Shannon, Site Supervisor

Media inquiries

Matt Epting, Enel Communications
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