With 303 megawatts (MWs) of solar photovoltaic (PV) power serving its residents and businesses, San Diego edged out Los Angeles as the top solar city in Environment America’s Shining Cities 2017 report. Los Angeles, with 267 MWs of solar serving residents and businesses, was previously first, but fell to second. Overall, the report observed that the top 20 cities in the US for solar power now have nearly as much PV serving their needs as the whole country had in 2010!
The latest version of the annual Shining Cities reports observed that across the homes, businesses and utilities in the US 42 gigawatts (GWs) of PVs are producing electricity for US’s residents, manufacturers and businesses. The top 20 cities in terms of solar power, representing 0.1 percent of the nation’s land mass, but they account for nearly 2 GWs of installed PV capacity—5 percent of the nation’s solar energy.
That group of cities is now led by San Diego. “San Diego is setting the standard for other cities across the country when it comes to protecting our environment and creating a cleaner future,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This new ranking is a testament to the many San Diego residents and businesses harnessing our natural resources as we march toward our goal of using 100 percent renewable energy throughout the city.”
The report observed that the leading solar cities have enacted strong pro-solar public policies, and/or are located in states with strong solar policies. Six of the top 20 cities on the list are in California, for instance. The report also signaled examples of the solar policies enacted by cities to help them become leaders in solar. The policies include leading by example, expanding access through community solar policies and programs, making it easier and cheaper to switch to solar energy and adopting local policies that make solar energy the default energy source.
“By using solar power in cities across the country, we can reduce pollution and improve public health for everyday Americans,” said Bret Fanshaw of Environment America Research and Policy Center and report co-author. “To realize these benefits, city leaders should continue to embrace a big vision for solar on rooftops throughout their communities.”
“Cities are recognizing that clean, local and affordable energy just makes sense,” added Abi Bradford with Frontier Group, report co-author. “For the fourth year in a row, our research shows that this is happening, not necessarily in cities with the most sun, but also in those with smart policies in place to support this shift.”
For instance, New York City recently announced that it had surpassed 100 MWs of rooftop solar. With 117 MWs, according to the report, the city was 7th in terms of overall solar power installed. As such, the city represents the types of challenges that can be overcome even in densely packed areas.
The report added that even its top-ranked cities still have vast amounts of untapped solar energy potential. “For instance, San Diego has developed less than 14 percent of its technical potential for solar energy on small buildings,” the report stated. It recommended that cities continue to enact pro-solar policies at the city, state and federal levels.Tweet