Even on Darkest Days, Solar Power Lights Up Duluth

In Duluth, MN, it doesn’t matter if days are cloudy and overcast – solar power can still be utilized and electric bills can still decrease. Check out how!


power is becoming a popular source of clean across the globe, but some worry about how it would work in places that see a lot of days without much sunlight. Nonetheless, out in , even on the darkest day of the year, power bills are decreasing thanks to the usage of solar power. Read on to learn exactly how this is happening in .

Solar is Within Reach

Tom Griffin is one person enjoying a reduced electric bill in Minnesota. Below his home in Duluth is an impressive solar array. Duluth averages 185 overcast or cloudy days each year. Additionally, on the Winter Solstice, there is an average of just under seven and a half hours less sunshine than on the Summer Solstice. Nonetheless, solar power is within reach.

Paul Helstrom is the lead for the renewable energy program at . He says that even on cloudy days, they are producing at least a small amount of energy. According to Helstrom, roughly 100 customers in the Duluth area have a solar array on their property. There are an additional 150 customers in the greater coverage area of the utility and 98 customers who purchase into the community solar program. Helstrom refers to solar as a phenomenal energy source, and discussed how affordability has changed a lot over the years.

Solar: A Price Worth Paying

As for , his 5-kilowatt system (before incentives and rebates) was in the ballpark of $25,000 – this is more than the average homeowner would spend on a solar array – but his electric bill shows just how worth it everything has been. Going solar has reduced his power consumption from the grid a great deal. He was told going solar had the potential to drop the amount of power used by approximately 50 percent.

Griffin was not purely motivated by money in his decision to go solar – he had a career in renewable energy and wanted to make positive changes in his life for the planet. In order to set up his solar array, rock had to be scraped down, anchors had to be drilled, and there was a great deal of engineering involved. The secret to having power even when the sun is not shining is to feed surplus electrons to the grid, and not to only rely on the solar array with a battery. This technique is a very environmentally-friendly approach to solar. How? Because electricity that can’t be stored is not wasted.

There are continuous improvements being made with regard to technology, making having a home solar system tied to the grid beneficial during the Winter Solstice. Helstrom discussed how using solar is allowing people to do things “better than plants” – this is because typical panels are converting roughly 18 percent, meaning 18 percent of photons are being converted into functional electricity. The numbers for photosynthesis come in at roughly 2 percent.

Even though solar system costs fall in the range of $15,000 to a little over $20,000, incentives and rebates can cut the upfront price in half. Moreover, there are other options available, such as buying into community solar projects. There is currently a wait list for a local solar garden.

Continuous Solar Changes for Minnesota

According to a report released recently, “Solar Pathways” from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the state of Minnesota could generate a large percentage of its electricity from solar and wind by the year 2050 – 70 percent, to be exact. This would be huge, and absolutely worth talking about. Clearly, the state of Minnesota is on a very positive solar path.

Solar is truly becoming a more popular source of energy all across the planet. It is fascinating to learn about the latest projects coming up. The creativity and drive people have to better our planet is palpable, and the changes being made are remarkable. Continue to follow solar news to stay on top of the latest developments – and pay attention to the solar changes coming to your area!





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