There are many different technologies used to capture solar energy for consumption. Solar electricity or photovoltaic's (PV) can be used by anyone with a need for electric power. Solar heating collectors absorb the sun's energy and produce heat. These systems heat a fluid, either air or liquid. This fluid then is used to heat directly or indirectly indoor spaces, water for household use, swimming pools, or to make electricity. The use of solar heating or thermal systems is growing in Idaho but is still not widespread even though they are usually cost effective.
The largest use of solar energy in Idaho is solar electricity, particularly to provide electricity in remote locations. In locations where extending a power line to a site can be prohibitively expensive, a PV system is often the least cost solution. There are hundreds of such installations throughout Idaho providing electricity to homes, ranches, farms, and many other facilities that are not served by electric utility power lines. Idahoans can use PV power in any number of ways. All around Idaho PV systems are providing power for remote-facility electrification, lighting, communications, monitoring, warning signs, water pumping and cathodic protection. People using PV are the biggest supporters and the best sales people for this technology. Solar energy potential for Idaho can be found on the Department of Energyweb site.
The most important step in purchasing any solar system is choosing a provider with experience. A good provider will also have a properly licensed electrical contractor, have enough experience to have demonstrated an ability to work with customers and be able to compete effectively with other firms. A good provider should be familiar with the local utility's regulations on interconnection requirements. Please read "Idaho Solar Project Development Resources" (to the right of this page) for more information.
The Idaho Governor's Office of Energy Resources Solar Program offers low interest energy loans to Idaho citizens and businesses.