US cities are increasingly turning to solar to meet their energy needs with 50 major urban areas having each more than doubled their total installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity since 2013, a new study reveals.
The top five leaders per capita overall are: Honolulu; San Diego; Albuquerque; San Jose; and Burlington. For total solar PV installed, the top five are: Los Angeles; San Diego; Honolulu; Phoenix; and San Antonio.
Shining Cities 2020
The report, Shining Cities 2020: The Top US Cities for Solar Energy, released by Environment America Research & Policy Centre and Frontier Group, is the seventh annual edition of the survey.
In 2013, the first year of the study, eight of the cities surveyed had enough solar PV per capita to qualify as “solar stars” (cities with 50 watts or more of solar PV capacity installed per capita). Last year, that number had leapt to 26 cities.
“Cities are leading the charge to install clean, renewable solar energy,” said Wendy Wendlandt, acting president of Environment America Research & Policy Centre.
“Mayors and local officials recognise the benefits that solar energy can offer their communities. Each year of our study we’ve found that more local leaders are pursuing solar projects and smart local policies to help their constituents tap the power of the sun.”
In addition to the overall rankings, regional leaders for solar capacity per capita were: Honolulu in the Pacific region; Las Vegas in the Mountain region; Indianapolis in the North Central region; San Antonio in the South Central region; Jacksonville, Florida, in the South Atlantic region; and Burlington, Vermont, in the Northeast region.
“Effective public policy can be as important as sunshine for cities looking to expand their solar capacity,” said Adrian Pforzheimer, policy analyst at Frontier Group, and report co-author.
“Cities can encourage solar in many ways, and a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy is often the strongest. These cities’ public policies are the driving force that sets them apart from their peers.”
The report notes that while the novel coronavirus pandemic has tremendously impacted the solar industry, the statistics both reflect how cities throughout the nation made a thorough commitment to this clean renewable energy source before Covid-19, and how essential it is to continue to push forward with solar energy despite the hurdles.
“With the continued growth in solar at risk in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we must make smart policy choices in this space,” added Johanna Neumann, senior director of the Campaign for 100 per cent Renewable Energy with Environment America Research & Policy Centre.
“Now is the time to build the future we need, which means supporting the clean energy sector through the pandemic and incentivising the broad deployment of clean energy technologies like solar at the federal level so we can advance a future powered entirely by renewable energy sources.”