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Alternative energy in Minnesota

Tapping into solar, wind, biomass, and other renewable energy sources can be as easy as buying green power from your utility company for a few dollars a month or perhaps a larger project, such as installing solar panels on your home.

Solar energy

The sun will rise every day and shine on your house. Why not take advantage of this daily resource? You can use solar energy in simple ways or in high-tech ways.

Simple ways to use the sun

  • Line-dry your clothes. If you hang your clothes in direct sunlight, turn them inside out to avoid fading.
  • Try cooking a meal using a solar oven.
  • Dry herbs on warm summer days. On a hot, low-humidity day (rare in Minnesota!), you can also experiment with other solar food drying techniques.

Solar energy systems

There are several types of solar energy systems. Solar thermal systems heat air or water. They are classified as passive or active. Passive thermal systems use concrete or stone surfaces to absorb and store warmth from the sun. Active thermal systems use collectors and mechanical components to store and distribute heat. In Minnesota, solar thermal systems supplement, but do not replace, traditional heating systems. A third technology is solar electric, or photovoltaics (PV), and these produce electricity.

What makes sense for you? Read more from the Division of Energy Resources at the Department of Commerce

  • Solar heating collectors collect warm air or water for space heating.
  • Solar hot water collectors use a transfer fluid to warm water before it enters your water heating tank.
  • Solar electric panels produce electricity and can offset your household or business's electricity consumption.

Wind energy

Home and farm sized wind energy uses the energy in wind for practical purposes like generating electricity, charging batteries, or pumping water. Commercial-scale community wind projects use energy in the wind to generate electricity on a large scale for hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of homes.

Getting started with solar or wind

Energy efficiency and conservation are the first steps in any successful energy improvement plan. The less energy you use, the further your renewable energy generation will go.

And last, be sure to look for incentives and rebates for your project in the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy!

Community projects

A renewable energy project at your school or place of worship is a great way to learn about renewable energy. Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) can connect you with technical resources for your community-level energy project.<

Buy Green Power from your utility.

"Green power" is electricity generated from renewable, high-efficiency, or low-pollution energy sources such as wind or solar. Read about it on our Buying Green page!

Last modified on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 09:26

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