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 energy system?
Find the solar potential of your property
The City of Minneapolis has built the Find My Solar Suitability application, which allows you to find the potential for solar PV on any structure in the city.
Information on solar radiation, shading, roof slope and roof size was used to analyze all structures, and provide an estimate of the maximum size and output of a solar energy system.
Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using 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 incentives--including tax credits--can help make investments in a solar system more affordable. ENERGY STAR has a full list of tax credits for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Find an installer
The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) manages the Clean Energy Project Builder, a database allows you to search for solar installers in your area.
The City of Minneapolis has a special permitting process for residential solar electric 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)
- Case studies: City of Minneapolis buildings with Sustainable practices
Last updated Aug 3, 2016