Planning Your Project

Good planning is the key to successfully installing solar or wind!

The planning section is here for to help you navigate the steps of developing a solar or small wind project. The aim of the Clean Energy Project Builder is to break down solar and small wind projects into manageable sections, and to provide you with helpful resources in order to streamline the process.

Note: These resources mostly cover solar and small wind projects. If you're looking to plan a commercial-scale wind energy project, we recommend starting with Windustry's Community Wind Toolbox.

Getting Started Site Assessment Find Companies Funding & Financing
Getting Started Site Assessment Find Companies Funding & Financing

Getting Started

Here you will find all the tools necessary to begin developing a solar or small wind project. A proper amount of planning goes a long way toward ensuring a smoother implementation.

A Guide to Small SolarNational Renewable Energy Laboratory
The Department of Energy has put this guide together to help navigate through the complexities of starting a small scale solar project in Minnesota.

Simple Steps to SolarClean Energy Resource Teams
This two-page document provides simple steps to planning a solar energy project to help you think about your planning process.

Solar Case StudiesClean Energy Resource Teams
Learn about recent successful solar energy projects that have been done in Minnesota.

Community Wind ToolboxWindustry
The Community Wind Handbook offers high-quality practical information for farmers and rural landowners looking to develop commercial-scale wind projects.

Small Wind Electric SystemsU.S. Department of Energy
This consumer's guide provides you with basic information about small wind electric systems to help you decide if wind energy will work for you.

Resource LibraryAmerican Wind Energy Association
AWEA's collection of online resources offers a variety of wind energy related tools and information, including: educational reports; a career center; financing; projects; and industry standards.

Wind Case StudiesClean Energy Resource Teams
Learn about recent successful wind energy projects that have been done in Minnesota.


Site Assessment

It is important to be familiar with both the purpose of your solar or small wind project, and site specific details before moving into the implementation and financing of a project. Here you will find some tools to help assess your personal site in order to understand its unique potential in conjunction with your energy needs and budget.

Site AssessorsClean Energy Project Builder
Browse the Clean Energy Project Builder directory for companies that provide site assessments for solar and/or wind projects.

Midwest Site Assessor DirectoryMidwest Renewable Energy Association
The directory and locator tool include information about the site assessor, including their contact information, technologies that they hold a certificate in, and service territory.

Minnesota Solar Site AssessmentsMinnesota Renewable Energy Society
MRES solar site assessments are a great way to learn about your house or businesses viability for a solar installation, either solar electric, solar hot water or solar air heat.

Solar CalculatorWunderground
Using site coordinates one can find out solar potential for a given site throughout the year. It provides users with a month by month breakdown of average sunlight for a calendar year.

MIDC SOLPOS CalculatorNational Renewable Energy Laboratory
An interactive calculator which solar position and light intensity for any given location over a period of time


Find Companies

Once you have identified the primary objective of your solar or small wind project, and have an idea of the strengths and limitations of your site, it is important to find the right product and installer for your project. In this section you will find tips and useful links on how to refine your search on the Clean Energy Project Builder find the right companies for you.

  • Searching Companies: To refine your search on the Clean Energy Project Builder use the search tools on the left column. To streamline your query, using search tools such as service area and service type will help focus your search. For a full FAQ take a look at the Using Site page.

  • Other Services: In addition to installers and manufacturers, the Clean Energy Project Builder Directory can connect you to services such as financing and legal support for your project.

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Funding & Financing

Like any investment, it's important to understand the financial commitment of a solar or small wind project before you begin. This piece should be integrated into every step of the planning process. It is important to know things such as initial costs, ROI, as well as tax and utility incentives.

Database of State Incentives for Renewable EnergyNorth Carolina Solar Center, Interstate Renewable Energy Council
DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Renewable Energy Project FinanceNational Renewable Energy Laboratory
NREL's Project Finance team conducts research, performs analysis, and produces content aimed to inform decision makers in the renewable energy field and those planning projects.

Minnesota Funding & Financing ResourcesMinnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources
The State Energy Office has created this section of their website as a clearinghouse of information about available opportunities and resources.

Incentives and FundingMinnesota Renewable Energy Society
The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society has assembled a directory of articles and resources for those looking to finance a solar or small wind project.