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Solar PowerSolar Energy Links

Montana has an abundant solar resource that can be used to save energy in residential and commercial construction, and farming, ranching, recreation and other industries.

The links on this page tell the solar story, including descriptions of the technologies that we can use to make the most of clean - and free - energy from the sun.

American Solar Energy Society (ASES)
The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is a national organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar energy for the benefit of U.S. citizens and the global environment.

Basics of a Solar Electric System
Provides a concise overview of solar electric systems and their components. Part of DOE's Solar Electric Better Building series.

Battery Power for Your Residential Solar Electric System
Learn about PV system batteries. Part of DOE's Solar Electric Better Building series.

Connecting Your Solar Electric System to the Utility Grid
Learn about grid-connected PV systems. Part of DOE's Solar Electric Better Building series.

PDF iconConsumer's Guide to Renewable Energy in Arkansas
While intended for Arkansas residents and businesses, much of the information presented in this publication also applies to residents in other states. Includes useful information on solar, wind, and renewable fuels. [PDF/311KB]

Energy Basics Website
For those who want to know what something is in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies or how things such as a wind turbine or solar panel work, DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewal Energy (EERE) has launched the new Energy Basics website. The fresh destination explains the concepts behind everything from hybrid electric vehicles to ocean wave energy. It also gives overviews of home, building, and industrial energy efficiency, telling how various components and approaches can be used to make daily life better. The site features videos, highlighting wind energy and solar power among other renewable sources, and includes an energy term glossary. Be sure to check back often, because Energy Basics will be expanding and adding new information over time.

Field Guide to Photovoltaic Systems
This useful guide from NorthWestern Energy provides an overview of things you need to know about photovolatic systems: how PV works, how much it costs, whether it will work on your site, system sizing, connecting to the utility grid, and more.

Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)
FSEC is the largest and most active state-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency research, training, and certification institute in the United States. FSEC maintains ongoing activities and programs in the following areas:

  • Photovoltaic systems
  • Solar thermal systems
  • Energy-efficient buildings
  • Building design assistance
  • Simulation model development
  • International education
  • Air quality
  • Windows and daylighting
  • Hydrogen from renewable resources
  • Pollutant detoxification
  • Photoelectrochemical processes
  • Alternative-fueled vehicle

PDF iconHow to Build a Better Home in Montana With Solar Energy and Energy Efficiency
Learn more about incorporating solar and energy efficiency features into new home construction with this homeowner brochure developed by NCAT. [PDF/148KB]

PDF iconIndependent Solar Electric Homes
Utility independent, or "remote," solar electric systems provide electricity for building that are not connected to an electric utility. Photovoltaics (PV) have been used to power remote homes in Montana for more than 20 years. Applications vary from simple systems that charge a trailer battery, to complete home power systems that run everything from power tools to microwave ovens. Independent Solar Electric Homes covers the basics of what you need to get started. [PDF/294KB]

Industry Primer: Solar Energy 2010
This report aims to provide a detailed overview of the entire solar market, covering photovoltaic, solar-thermal and concentrating sub-sectors, and to analyze key differences along the value chain (from raw materials providers to installers). The report is geared toward investment firms, but may be equally insightful for corporate strategy professionals, consultants and advisors.

Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)
IREC is a non-profit organization committed to accelerating the sustainable utilization of renewable energy resources and technologies in and through state, local government, and community activities. IREC offers a range of market-oriented services and products targeted at education, coordination, and procurement; it also operates PV4You, a network of state, local and national groups and communities accelerating the deployment of off-grid and grid-connected photovoltaics.

A Kid's Guide to Solar Power in the Home
Provides a host of useful links to help kids learn about solar energy.

LAZAR's Solar Guide
This site is designed as an online reference guide for anyone looking for practical information on utilizing sun's energy.

Making Cents Out of Solar: Put More Power Into Your Building Plans
This DOE brochure was developed specifically for residential home builders. It provides information on basic solar facts, selling tips, and important resources when incorporating solar technologies into building plans.

Making the Most of Residential Photovoltaic Systems
Read this DOE booklet to see how far you can stretch solar energy by adding energy efficiency features to your home.

PDF iconMontana Guide to Building ENERGY STAR Solar Homes
Developed by NCAT, this brochure helps builders and designers incorporate energy efficiency and solar energy features into new home construction. It discusses ENERGY STAR Homes Northwest, grid-connected photovoltaics, passive solar and solar tempering, solar water heating, and "solar ready" design features. [PDF/271KB]

PDF iconMontana Solar House - A Guide to Adding Solar to Your Home
Solar electric power generated using "photovoltaics," or "PVs," is used in hundreds of applications throughout Montana. Applications vary from road-side signs to high mountain communications towers and from hand-held calculators to stock-water pumping systems. This publication focuses on the use of solar electricity in homes and small businesses. It provides basic information about system components and what to expect when shopping for a solar electricsystem. Chapter 2 discusses solar water-heating and solar air-heating systems. [PDF/467KB]

PDF iconMontana Solar House - An Introduction to New Home Solar Design
Similar to the publication above, this one focuses on incorporating solar features into new home design. Includes chapters on photovoltaics, solar water heating, and building-integrated solar design. [PDF/701KB]

North Carolina Solar Center
North Carolina Solar Center provides programs and resources that help people throughout North Carolina take advantage of solar energy. The Center also makes available online numerous publications, including Information Factsheets (30 online technical documents on solar and renewable energy); Sunbook - a guide to solar energy; plus a directory of information resources for conservation and renewable energy information.

Planning for PV: The Value and Cost of Solar Electricity
This brochure from DOE was developed specifically for residential home builders. It provides information on basic financial factors and additional resources to consider when incorporating solar technologies into building plans.

Renewable Energy Opportunities on the Farm
Renewable energy represents an important option for agricultural producers. This publication from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service/ATTRA introduces three renewable energy resources that can be attractive and economically feasible for the farm: solar, wind, and renewable fuels. This is not a technical guide for designing or installing renewable energy systems but, instead, an overview that provides information on wind, solar, and renewable fuel technologies, cost and savings, site planning, and financial incentives. A list of resources follows the narrative.

Renewable Resource Data Center (RReDC)
RReDC provides information on several types of renewable energy resources in the United States, in the form of publications, data, and maps. An extensive dictionary of renewable energy related terms is also provided. The News section announces new products on the RReDC, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Resource Assessment Program and managed by the Photovoltaics Technology Division of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Repowering Montana: A Blueprint for Homegrown Energy Self-Reliance
This publication from AERO details strategies for investing in energy efficiency, in sustainable production of biofuels (both biodiesel and ethanol), and in dispersed wind, small hydro, and solar power systems, and also advocates localizing ownership and control of these energy systems as much as possible. Doing so, says its authors, will keep dollars circulating in our communities (instead of exporting them elsewhere) and will create useful and fulfilling work for our citizens, in both the countryside and in cities.

PDF iconResidential Solar Heating Collectors
Solar collectors are the heart of most solar energy systems. The collector absorbs the sun's light energy and changes it into heat energy. This publication describes the different types of solar collectors used for residences. It also briefly covers the solar heating systems for which they are best suited.

Shining On
Accurate information is important for designing energy systems. This primer examines one of the most important pieces of information - solar radiation data. It explains what solar radiation data are, why they are needed, what data are measured, how the data are used, and how data uncertainties affect performance and economic projections. It also examines how climate, geography, and atmospheric conditions cause the amount of solar radiation to vary, and discusses solar radiation data bases and products available for engineering and economic analyses.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
SEIA is the national trade association of solar energy manufacturers, dealers, distributors, contractors and installers.Its primary mission is to expand the use of solar technologies in the global marketplace. National members combined with chapter members in 22 states exceed 500 companies providing solar thermal and solar electric products and services.

"Solar Energy With No Money Down"
An article in the September/October 2010 issue of Solar Today magazine weighs the pros and cons of third-party ownership and other options for PV system financing.

Solar Thermal or Solar Electric? “Facts at a Glance”
Produced by Harvey's Plumbing and Heating in Bozeman, this webpage summarizes the the differences between solar thermal and solar electric systems, including cost, savings, and payback.

Solar Glossary
Find definitions for dozens of solar terms at this glossary from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Solar Nation
Striving to change and improve energy policy in America so that solar power becomes a key element of our future.

Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory
The University of Oregon Solar Radiation Monitoring Laboratory operates solar monitoring stations around the Northwest and is dedicated to producing high quality solar radiation data for solar energy resource evaluation and long-term climate studies.

Solar Today Magazine
A magazine from the American Solar Energy Society provides updates, trends, data and more related to solar energy.

Solar Today Blog
Get your daily dose of solar news and Q&As in this blog from the American Solar Energy Society.

Solar Water Heaters
Learn more about solar water heaters, including how they work, and how to select, install, and mtaintain a system. From DOE's Energy Savers.

Solar and Wind Easements
Montana's solar and wind easement provisions allow property owners to create solar and wind easements for the purpose of protecting and maintaining proper access to sunlight and wind. While 32 other states have solar easement provisions, only three other states have created specific provisions for the creation of wind easements. Montana's solar easement law was enacted in 1979 and the wind easement was enacted in 1983.

Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan
In 2007, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) orders to draw 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. After President Obama called for 20 percent by 2020, the DoD established a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, which targets improvements in greenhouse gas emissions, waste management and energy efficiency.

The Open PV Project
A collaborative effort between government, industry, and the public that is compiling a comprehensive database of photovoltaic (PV) installation data for the United States. Data for the project are voluntarily contributed from a variety of sources including utilities, installers, and the general public. The data collected is actively maintained by the contributors and are always changing to provide an evolving, up-to-date snapshot of the U.S. solar power market.