Solar energy is becoming increasingly accessible and affordable across the country. Illinois is seeing a large increase in solar adoption thanks to the passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act in December of 2016, and the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act in 2021. The Ecology Action Center wants to help central Illinois residents and businesses go solar!
How does solar electricity work?
Most solar energy is generated using photovoltaic (PV) systems. Photovoltaic panels directly convert solar radiation into electricity.
- When the sun shines onto a solar panel, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel
- This excites electrons in the solar panel creating an electric field across the layers and causes Direct Current (DC) electricity to flow
- DC electricity reaches an inverter that converts that DC to Alternating Current, or AC electricity, which is used in the home
- The energy you produce goes through an electric meter, this one is separate from the one that’s already on your house, and measures how much electricity your panels produce.
- On a grid tied system the unused electricity is sent onto the grid, but you credited for it and can use those credits later through a process called net-metering
Ideal conditions for solar on your property:
- Own the property
- Roof in good condition
- South facing area ideal, east and west can work
- No significant shading (area free of shade from trees or other buildings)
- Property is energy efficient (not a requirement, but if your space is energy efficient the size of a PV system you’ll require will be smaller)
Solar options in Illinois:
Anyone can go solar!
- Rooftop or ground mounted solar (for homeowners or businesses that meet ideal conditions above)
- Community solar array subscriptions (for renters, or homeowners or businesses that cannot afford the upfront costs of an on-property system or don’t meet ideal conditions)
Can I afford solar?
Yes! Illinois has wonderful incentives to help reduce the cost burden of solar adoption. There are also financing options, leasing options, power purchase agreements (for non-profit entities especially), and community solar array subscriptions to help everyone access solar! The Future Energy Jobs Act also has the Illinois Solar for All program aimed to assist income-qualifying residents and non-profit entities access solar. The EAC is a grassroots educator for the Illinois Solar for All program. Contact us for more information or attend an upcoming presentation to learn more!
Let the Ecology Action Center help you explore your solar energy options! Reach out to us for information about:
- Solar installations for your home or business
- Community solar array subscription options
- Solar access for low-income residents, environmental justice areas, and non-profits
- Power Purchase Agreements