The installed solar power capacity in the USA has risen dramatically over the past years – by the end of 2014, there was a total of 20.5 gigawatts up and running, which is surprising considering that a mere five years ago the installed capacity was only of 2 gigawatts.
Another noticeable feature is that the adoption of solar power across the USA has not been homogeneous, with some cities taking the lead as early adopters of the technology. Of the total installed capacity, 1.3 gigawatts are distributed among only 20 cities, accounting for 6.5% of the national total, according to the Shining Cities report published by the Environment America Research & Policy Center.
(Please read on below the table.)
It is important to note that the USA is rich in solar resource coast to coast. Of course, areas such as the southwest have the highest rates of solar radiation and therefore the best potential, but solar PV technology is feasible across the entire nation. The cost reduction that has been experienced by solar power has been a general incentive across the board, but there are further ways to promote the technology which typically depend on federal and state authorities.
In general, solar PV systems tend to thrive in cities with the following benefits:
In short, photovoltaic technology has become affordable and solar radiation is available in generous amounts across the nation – the government is now the key player who can further promote the adoption of solar PV systems. Important steps are being taken, such as the Clean Power Plan, which plans to cut emissions drastically across the nation over the next two decades.
Surprisingly, the top 20 solar power cities in the USA are not all concentrated to the southwest, as one might tend to believe. They are distributed across the nation, which proves that with the right incentives in place, any city is a good place to invest in solar power!
It should come as no surprise that California is the state with the highest number of cities in the list, including the first, second and fifth place, which are occupied by Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, respectively.
Other Californian cities featured in the top 20 list include San Francisco and Sacramento. California alone has five of the 20 top solar power cities in the USA, and more than half of the nation’s total solar PV capacity! Local programs have played a key role; for example, San Diego has a plan to meet all of its energy needs with renewable energy by the year 2035, and San José plans to do so by 2022.
The state of Texas occupies the second place after California, with two cities featured among the top 20: San Antonio and Austin. Texas enjoys generous amounts of solar radiation, particularly to the west of the state. San Antonio is noticeable for its solar power adoption model: there is a city-owned utility promoting the adoption of PV technology, by allowing homeowners to rent their rooftops for utility-owned PV systems. This allows solar power to be installed even in low income households who might not have access to the technology otherwise.
Only California and Texas have more than one city in the top 20 list, but action is being taken everywhere across the nation:
The trend is clear: solar power is feasible in any USA city as long as incentives are available, paperwork is simplified and market entrance barriers are brought down.
A lot has been said about the benefits of solar PV systems for individual users, but what about the benefits at the city level? The following deserve special mention:
You can also benefit from solar PV technology, and contribute to energy sustainability while lowering your electric utility bills. Talk to our experts today to learn more about the technology, as well as to get information on the incentives and providers at your location!