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Camphill solar hot water installation
Joel Haskard
Mon, 11/10/2014 - 5:35pm
Camphill Village Minnesota is located on a 500-acre biodynamic farm ten miles north of Sauk Centre in West Central Minnesota. The mission of Camphill Village Minnesota is to create and sustain a community where people with and without disabilities live, work, and care for each other to foster social, spiritual, cultural, and agricultural renewal. Camphill Village Minnesota turned to John Duevel and his business Three Seasons And More to explore installing a solar thermal hot water system. “John had worked with us on smaller efficiency projects and showed a real enthusiasm for solar energy not to mention he felt aligned with the overall philosophy of our Camphill community,” says Camphill staffer Kristin Wilson. “The result of his work, a four panel system on one of our homes (Nicholas Coleman House) is a fully functioning...
Made-In-Minnesota solar furnaces installed at REAL Solar headquarters
Joel Haskard
Thu, 11/06/2014 - 5:50pm
Last heating season was one for the record books, and on the verge of the deep freeze this year, many communities are concerned about how to keep their homes, businesses, and institutions warm without breaking the bank. This is particularly true in rural communities where there is higher dependence on delivered fuels like propane and fuel oil. We spoke with Jason Edens, Director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), about their approach to renewable heating. RREAL manufactures solar-powered furnaces and installs both solar thermal and solar PV systems through their installation arm, REAL Solar. Joel Haskard: Give us your take about last year’s heating issues. Jason Edens: The perfect storm of the Polar vortex and a wet harvest last year led to immense demand...
Solar thermal hot water collectors atop Beck Hall at Gustavus
Joel Haskard
Thu, 11/06/2014 - 1:17pm
Overlooking the town of St. Peter, Minnesota, Gustavus Adolphus College is beautiful campus. Over the past few years Gustavus has been able to add a variety of renewable energy systems to add to its charms, including a real focus on solar thermal hot water systems. To learn more, we spoke with James Dontje, Director of Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation in Environmental Studies. Joel Haskard: Tell us why Gustavus has focused so much on solar thermal as a renewable energy technology. James Dontje: As a part of our overall environmental stewardship and climate action effort, we have a commitment to reducing our fossil fuel emissions in general and our greenhouse gas emissions in particular. While the fact that electricity...
Solar thermal hot water collectors and goats at the Rach-Al-Paca Farm
Joel Haskard
Tue, 11/04/2014 - 2:41pm
Joel Haskard with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) spoke with Rachel Boucher, owner of Rach-Al-Paca Farm in Hastings, about their solar thermal hot water project and the savings that they’ve been experiencing in their operations as a result of the installation.   Joel Haskard: Rachel, tell us a little bit about your farm. Rachel Boucher: We live on a 20 acre farm near Hastings, where we raise sheep, alpacas, and goats. We operate a custom fiber mill on the property. We make yarn and clothing from our animals’ fleece, but 90% of the time, we process for other people. We have 5 solar panels on a huge rack next to the mill building. We have a lot more detail on our website at http://www.rachalpacafarm.com. Joel: How did you decide to do a solar thermal install? Rachel: Washing the fiber requires copious amounts...
Solar thermal air heat wall at PWELC
Erin Smith
Fri, 10/31/2014 - 3:25pm
On October 15th folks from across the West Central CERT region met at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer to learn about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Panelists shared experience and insights gained from their projects, partly funded by WC CERT seed grants. After Q&A on the patio, participants enjoyed the sunny day with a tour of Prairie Woods’ clean energy projects. Greater Milan Initiative – Sustainable Energy Utility During the panel discussion, Ann Thompson with Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) of Milan talked about their Community Center Energy Revitalization Project. The SEU purchased Milan’s old school building for $1 to serve as a community center. As many communities who have gone through this process have learned, a number of these older school buildings require a lot of energy to heat. With that in mind, the SEU pursued a...
RREAL solar furnace installation on a Mille Lacs home
Frank Jossi
Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:53pm
While soaring propane prices last winter helped build interest in solar thermal systems, results from a Minnesota rebate program show the market is still lukewarm. The state’s Department of Commerce has enough rebate money left over to fund dozens more solar hot water or solar thermal projects through its Made in Minnesota (MiM) program. Meanwhile, a much larger pool of money for PV has been exhausted. Although the deadline for rebates has formally passed, MiM’s coordinator Kim Havey said the department has extended the program until the end of the year. Solar thermal could be particularly attractive to rural customers using propane, which may be in...
Tour sites for 2014
Laura Burrington
Wed, 08/20/2014 - 10:44am
October 4th, 2014 from 10am-4pm the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society will be hosting the Minnesota Renewable Energy Tour, which features 50+ exemplary homes, businesses, and institutions that have incorporated renewable energy systems into the design and operation of their buildings. From geothermal heat pumps using the earth as a huge thermal buffer to wind turbines elegantly spinning in the breeze, and the many incarnations of solar energy between earth and sky, this event offers Minnesotans an opportunity to find out how their neighbors are trimming their energy bills, increasing their energy independence, and taking steps to reduce their impact on the planet. This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in solar and other renewable energies to view installations and talk with home and building owners, builders, architects, and planners about their experiences. Join us...
Join us at the Eco Experience building at the MN State Fair!
Stacey Pederson
Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:08pm
It seems like summer has just barely started, but the Minnesota State Fair is just around the corner—August 21-Sept. 1. For the third straight year, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources will host an “Improve Your Home” energy exhibit at the Eco Experience on the north end of the fairgrounds. Check out who is exhibiting this year! The exhibit will provide Minnesota homeowners, renters, and builders with many measures that can improve the energy-related operation of existing homes. It will demonstrate opportunities to invest in the performance, durability, health and safety of existing homes....
Statewide view from the MN Solar Suitability App
Dan Thiede
Wed, 07/16/2014 - 3:50pm
Did you know that Minnesota has an award-winning Solar Dream Team? It’s true! CERTs is helping a talented team of GIS professionals design an online mapping application for solar energy that will serve an array of stakeholders and the energy industry through the coming boom in solar—and they just won a national award for their efforts. Keep reading to get the full story and learn more.   The beginning   Back in January of 2014, CERTs approached Len Kne with U-Spatial at the University of Minnesota—a group that provides support for spatial research—and asked if he had any students that would be interested in mapping the solar potential of the entire state of Minnesota. A week later Len got back to us and said, “I found a Dream Team of masters in GIS students, and they like your idea. They’d like to...
A home with solar in Minneapolis
Trevor Drake
Thu, 07/10/2014 - 11:23am
We often receive questions from homeowners about how to get started with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Recently a gentleman named Jim in Corcoran, MN reached out to us with a question on this topic, and we decided to share the answer with everyone in the hopes that it will help you, too.   The Question Hello, I am a homeowner in Corcoran (Hennepin County). My family and I are very interested in learning more about energy alternatives for heating and cooling our residence. Last winter, we, like many others, took a big financial hit with the cost of propane; we’d like to reduce — or eliminate — our dependence on it. We are especially interested in a system that would include the integration of solar and geothermal. (And anything else you may suggest.) Can someone come out to our home and assess our energy needs, then make some recommendations to us?...

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