Minnesota has abundant solar energy. In fact, Minneapolis and Saint Paul were named "Solar America Cities" by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2008. A DOE grant (PDF) allows Minneapolis to dedicate resources through its Solar in the Cities Initiative (PDF). The City will identify strategies that will result in solar-friendly policies, practices, and regulations, with the goal of increasing solar capacity by 500 percent over the two years of the grant.
Solar power comes in two forms:
- Solar electricity – also called photovoltaics – is the use of sunlight to directly generate electricity.
- Solar thermal systems use sunlight to provide heat for domestic hot water and space heating. Passive solar thermal uses siting principles or building components like concrete or stone to absorb and store heat from the sun. Active solar thermal systems use collectors and mechanical components to supplement a building’s heating needs.
Interested in your own solar system?
Besides doing right by the earth and tapping into a renewable energy source, there are plenty of other incentives for installing a solar electric or heating system:
Xcel Energy's Solar*Rewards program makes it more affordable for homeowners and businesses to install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels through a one-time payment of $2.25 per installed Watt.
Federal and state incentives--including tax credits--can help make investments in a solar system more affordable. The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency is an easy to use starting point for understanding which incentives you may qualify for.
The City of Minneapolis has a special permitting process for residential solar electic systems: be sure to use the permit applicant checklist (PDF) to make the process quick and easy. The State of Minnesota provides a list of questions to ask potential renewable energy installers (PDF).
Learn more about solar power
For more information about solar and other renewable energy sources, start with these helpful websites:
- Minnesota Renewable Energy Society
- Minnesota Department of Commerce: Division of Energy Resources
- Environmental Protection Agency: Clean Energy
- Case study: Minneapolis solar installations in the Energy Innovation Corridor (PDF)
Last updated Oct. 18, 2012