Our sun provides us with an abundance of clean and renewable solar energy. Solar energy can be used to create electricity or to create hot water. Massachusetts has several incentives for solar installations and the City of Cambridge is offering up $2000 for the installation of solar hot water systems.

Solar Photovoltaic (PV)

Solar PV panels work when the energy from the sun’s rays excites electrons within the solar cells creating electricity. Output from the solar panels depends on weather and time of year at night or during extended cloud cover, the building may revert to using electricity from the utility grid. During sunny days the panels may produce enough electricity to turn a utility meter backwards.

Interactive Solar Map

Cambridge has an interactive solar map that let's users click on a property to find out what their potential is to generate electricity from solar photovoltaic panels and the financial and environmental implications of installing the project. To learn how to use the map, check out this easy-to-follow video by MoDe Studios!

Read the article on the Fast Co web site!

Solar Thermal

Using the sun’s energy to heat your domestic hot water is clean and economical. A passive solar hot water system warms a large volume of water in a sunny spot (such as a roof) and gravity feeds the warm water into the hot water heater for storage without the use of pumps or controls. An active system uses pumps to continuously pipe water through large panels that concentrate the sun’s rays and quickly heat it.

A direct system is the simplest—the water warmed by the sun is the same water used for bathing and washing clothes. An indirect system involves an additional step—the liquid warmed by the sun flows into a heat-transfer unit where it warms the cold water as it flows into the traditional hot water tank. The warming solution can also be water, but an anti-freeze solution is preferable in cold climates because it won’t freeze.

Solar Permitting Guide

The City of Cambridge has created a new guide to help you through the process of permitting your new solar panel installation.  Check it out here and learn more!

For More Information

For more information on renewable energy options contact Meghan Shaw from the Cambridge Energy Alliance at 617/349-5323 or

For more information on the Interactive Solar Map contact John Bolduc at 617/349-4628 or