Solar Energy Systems

Solar Panels on NB Court

Solar energy systems convert the Sun’s radiation to usable energy. Solar thermal systems convert solar radiation to thermal energy for use in heating or cooling. The solar energy systems described in this feature are roof and ground mounted photovoltaic panel arrays for residential (single family) or commercial (multi-family, business, industrial, institutional) buildings.  A photovoltaic panel system converts solar radiation into electricity.

The Village is participating in the US Department of Energy’s SolSmart program, which assists local governments in promoting solar energy development by streamlining permit and inspection processes for solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in their communities. See the Village Solar Statement here. Establishing efficient solar permitting results in improved solar workforce market conditions, greater affordability for solar consumers, and a notable reduction in time and expense for Village administrative staff.  The expansion of local solar installations in turn reinforces the Village’s sustainability goals which highlight renewable energy systems, reduction of fossil fuel use, and improved resiliency of the electricity grid.

An increasing number of homeowners and business owners in communities across the nation have benefited from declining prices for photovoltaic panel systems.  In 2019 the Village’s Development and Planning Services Department recorded a five fold increase over 2018 in the number of permits issued for small residential roof-mounted solar photovoltaic arrays.  See the resource lists below for information to further your interest in going solar.

UPDATE: The Village of Northbrook has received Silver designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. This designation recognizes the Village for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Silver designation is a signal that the Village of Northbrook is “open for solar business.”

Sol Smart credits achieved to benefit residential and commercial solar installations:

  • Reviewed and clarified the Village’s zoning code to show that solar energy systems will meet existing zoning standards for accessory structures, therefore not requiring special provisions.
  • Revised and condensed residential and commercial solar applications to single page applications
  • Solar Permit review and processing time will not exceed 10 days for projects fulfilling application checklist requirements
  • Residential and small commercial solar fees are capped at a highly reasonable level.
  • Inspections for residential and small commercial solar installations will only involve a final inspection

Village of Northbrook Solar Renewable Energy Potential Study

In September 2020 paleBLUEdot, LLC presented the Village with a DRAFT Solar Renewable Energy Potential Study. The goal of the Study is to establish community-wide rooftop solar PV potential throughout the Village. Detailed in the report are Solar Financing and Incentives, Village-wide Solar Potentials, Methodologies and Data, Technical and Generational Capacities, Market History and Projections, Summary of Benefits, and Community-wide Solar Recommendations. View the full report here.

Local Resources