Solarsun drawing 

The sun produces an abundance of free, clean, renewable energy. In fact, in just one hour, the sun generates more energy than the entire world uses in a year. Solar power harnesses this energy. Increasing the amount of clean renewable energy is a critical component of Berkeley community efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and grow the green economy.

Reduce before you produce. The first step in any solar energy installation is to implement conservation measures to reduce energy use. Conservation reduces expenses, greenhouse gas emissions, and minimizes the size of your solar PV or solar thermal system. Check out resources for energy efficiency.  

SunShares solar bulk purchase: The City of Berkeley is participating in SunShares, a solar bulk purchasing program, to allow residents to buy solar at a discounted rate. Sunshares pools the buying power of residents, vets the contractors, and offers free, third-party technical advice. Sign-up on their website at They are are also providing discounts for zero emission vehicles.

Is solar right for your building? See what your options are in the SmartSolar Marketplace. Get a quick personalized estimate of your solar potential. Next, enter your project into the SmartSolar Marketplace where you can compare contractor quotes side-by-side. Choose the best solar solution for you.The SmartSolar program is operated by the local nonprofit Community Energy Services Corporation (CESC).

Solar for income-qualified homeowners: Through a grant and partnership with GRID Alternatives, a limited number of low-income Berkeley homeowners can get low-to-no cost solar on their rooftops. Low-income households interested in qualifying for this solar program can visit  

Financing: PACE Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing allows property owners to borrow money to pay for renewable-energy systems and/or energy efficiency improvements and spread the cost of the upgrade over a period of time.

What permits are required to install solar panels? Electrical permits are required for all solar PV installations. Building permits are only needed if structural work is necessary to support the solar PV system. Solar projects do not require zoning permits or design review. See: Solar Permitting and Submittal Requirements.


Return to the Office of Energy and Sustainable Development Homepage.