Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative

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The Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative is a resource to help farmers and small business owners learn more about how solar can work for them, and provide the needed assistance to catalyze projects.

Why here?
Why here? Minnesota is a great place for solar energy, with more annual solar energy potential than Houston, TX and nearly as much as Miami, FL! There are already more than 850 solar installations in Minnesota, with new projects harnessing the sun each week.
 
 

Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative Want to learn more about solar and get started? Here’s what you can do:

 

Model Solar Energy Projects in MN

 


Solar Thermal Hot Water for Laundromats or Commercial Laundries

 
A Laundry Room in Ely, MNSolar thermal hot water collectorsLetting folks know they use solar
Click to see larger images

A Laundry Room in Ely, MN: In 2007 Rebecca Spengler decided to revamp an existing laundromat in Ely, Minnesota. She opened A Laundry Room Inc. that June, worked to make the building and her operations as energy efficient as possible, and then installed five solar thermal hot water collectors manufactured in Alexandria, MN by SolarSkies. The system, which helps supplement the existing propane system, includes two 120 gallon tanks and can heat water up to 120 degrees.

Find out how your laundromat or commercial laundromat can benefit from a solar hot water system with the resources below!



Solar Thermal Hot Water for Dairy Operations of All Sizes

 
Solar thermal at the Reese Dairy FarmSolarSkies collectorsPump station and hot water storage tank
Click to see larger images

Reese Dairy Farm in Goodhue County, MN: Dairy farmers are an industrious group by nature, and farmer and entrepreneur Peter Reese of Goodhue County has eyes for common sense and untapped opportunities. The basic concept of Perpetual Harvest, LLC, came from Peter’s thoughts about how our economy is under-utilizing available and renewable local resources. Solar thermal water heating was a clear best option for the Reese Farm Dairy Farm, and in the resources below Peter details exactly how he made it happen.

Find out how your dairy farm can benefit from a solar hot water system with the resources below!



Solar Thermal Air Heat for High Tunnel Season Extension

 
Vegetables thrive in high tunnel with solar air heatTubing installed to heat soilRREAL solar thermal air heat collectors
Click to see larger images

Flynn Farm in Frazee, MN: Dallas Flynn and his wife raise vegetables and shiitake mushrooms on a small farm just south of Frazee that they sell at a nearby farmer’s market. They are now using solar thermal air heat collectors to heat the soil and extend the growing season in high tunnel vegetable production. Read the case study and the presentation below to learn more about how this approach can work for you.

Find out how your vegetable-growing operation can benefit from solar air heating!

 

Solar Energy Guides & Factsheets

 

Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative Factsheet

The Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative is a resource to help farmers and small business owners learn more about how solar can work for them, and provide the needed assistance to catalyze projects. This factsheet covers the basics of the program, highlights best practice projects from around Minnesota, and lets you know how you can take action. Download Download factsheet

Solar-Powered Water Pumps & Electric Fences Factsheet

Electric fencing can be powered by solar photovoltaic energy, perfect for temporary, portable, or remote applications. Solar photovoltaic-powered water pumps are a versatile and cost-effective way for you to provide water remotely. Download this factsheet to learn more about both technologies and how they could be utilized on your farm. Download Download factsheet

Solar Air Heating & Water Heating Factsheet

Solar air heat is often one of the most cost competitive solar technologies available in colder climates, and Solar water heating is up to 70% efficient in converting the sun’s energy into usable heat. Download this factsheet to learn more about both technologies and how they could be utilized on your farm. Download Download factsheet

Simple Steps to Solar Factsheet

When you’re interested in planning a solar energy project, knowing the basic steps can take a lot of the confusion out of the process. This factsheet walks you through six steps to planning a farm or business solar project: (1) Get educated, (2) Start planning, (3) Seek advice, (4) Get bids, (5) Install solar, and (6) Tell your story. Get started today! Download Download factsheet

Rural Energy for American Program Factsheet

USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program provides assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for a wide variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including solar PV and solar thermal projects. This factsheet offers tips from an experienced REAP grant writer and USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator about how to create winning applications. Download Download factsheet

Solar Energy Systems for Small Commercial Businesses

 
This document describes the basic process for businesses to assess opportunities and barriers to making solar energy investments and how to move forward with installing a solar energy system. The document outlines the following steps: (1) Understand your options; (2) Assess of your solar resource; (3) Assess your building; (4) Bidding and installing your solar energy system. Author: Brian Ross, CR Planning, Inc. Download
 

Find more solar energy factsheets, reports, and guides >>

 
 

 

Minnesota Solar Manufacturers

 

SolarSkies: Solar Thermal Hot Water Collectors

 
Solar Skies 106 Donovan Drive
Alexandria, MN 56308
1-877-SOLAR-57

Learn more:


Rural Renewable Energy Alliance: Solar-Powered Furnace

 
Rural Renewable Energy Alliance 2330 Dancing Wind Road SW #2
Pine River, MN 56474
218-587-4753

Learn more:


Heatwave Solar: Solar-Powered Furnace

 
Heatwave Solar 5809 Eastview Drive #150
Edina, MN 55436
763-245-4606

Learn more:


tenKsolar tenKsolar: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels

 
9549 Penn Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55431
952-303-7600

Learn more:


Silicon Energy: Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels

 
Silicon Energy 8787 Silicon Way
Mt. Iron, MN 55768
218 789-1710

Learn more:

 

Minnesota Solar Installers

 

Now is a great time to add solar to your farm or business! The Clean Energy Project Builder will allow you to research and find solar installers near you that can help you with your projects. Visit the website now >>
Visit the website now to search the directory
 

 

Funding, Incentives & Other Resources

 

Federal funding and incentives:

Solar incentives from Minnesota utilities:

Organizations and programs of note:

Know of anything we’re missing? Email Joel Haskard to let us know.
 

 

Talk with CERTs about Solar

 

Are you a business owner or farmer interested in one-on-one follow up regarding solar? Please contact Joel Haskard, CERTs Co-Director, at haska004@umn.edu or 612-625-8759.
 

 
The Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative is generously funded by USDA Rural Development in Minnesota.
USDA Rural Development