Introducing Solar Energy
Solar energy can be used to generate electricity, to provide hot water, and to heat, cool, and light buildings. 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.
Planning for Solar
It is important to consider the resources at your site. The Clean Energy Resource Team has a solar suitability application on their webpage that provides a sun exposure map for our area. In certain situations solar may not be the best option available for energy generation. Solar site assessors can help you decide which technologies are the best fit. Assessments will provide insight on the solar resource and note potential structural issues. The Clean Energy Resource Team has a list of a solar assessors.
Community Solar Gardens
At some sites the installation of a solar system may not be the best option or may not be permitted. If that is the case, consider subscribing to a community solar garden. Community solar gardens are a centrally located solar photovoltaic (PV) system that produces electricity from the sun for participating subscribers. Xcel Energy customers can participate in projects offered by private developers. The Clean Energy Resource Team has a ton of information available for residents and businesses that want to learn more about community solar gardens.
Planning & Zoning
Maplewood adopted ta adopted a Renewable Energy Ordinance in 2011. The intent of the Ordinance is to foster the use of renewable technologies in Maplewood. Solar is considered a permitted accessory use in all zoning districts. That said, there are still items that installers need to be aware of when planning a solar project including building permits and freestanding solar system setbacks. For more information regarding Zoning and Planning related renewable energy installation please contact the Planning Department at 651-249-2300.
Solar installers should be able to provide a cost estimate for a solar project, and outline incentives that can help make your solar project more affordable. If you have questions about available incentives for your solar project, check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiencies.
A building and electrical permit is required for the installation of solar panels at your house or business. View a detailed list of solar permit requirements (PDF).
If you have questions on what is needed for a building or electrical permit for your project, please contact the Building Department at 651-249-2300.