According to a new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center, solar power capacity doubled in most American cities in the last six years. The solar power increase took place in 45 out of the 57 biggest American cities. Some American cities quadrupled their PV solar capacity. If you want to read the Shining Cities 2019 report, you can find it here. Bret Fanshaw, the Director of the Go Solar campaign at Environment America, answered some questions about the growth for CleanTechnica.
1. In your press release, it stated that, “Over the past six years, solar energy capacity more than doubled in 45 of America’s 57 largest cities,” that’s a huge improvement. Do you believe the public is aware how much solar power has grown in American cities?
I think it depends. In many communities, solar panels are going up every day on homes, schools, fire stations, libraries, coffee shops, and other locations visible to the public. So I don’t think people are surprised to hear solar is growing. I think they are surprised to hear how while it has grown quite a lot, we are still just scratching the surface in terms of our potential to tap into clean energy from the sun.
2. What were the main factors driving the impressive solar growth?
A mix of growing demand, effective public policy, falling costs, and leadership by local governments have driven solar growth in cities across the country.
3. How much more will solar power in American cities grow in the coming 6 years?
It’s hard to predict. Most estimates in years past have under-predicted the growth of solar and renewable energy. SEIA estimates that in five years, by 2024, total installed PV capacity in the US will double. So, cities could see a similar growth pattern.
4. It also states that, “One-third of the cities surveyed in all of the report’s editions more than quadrupled their installed solar PV capacity over that period.” What cities experienced such huge solar growth?
The following cities more than quadrupled in installed solar PV capacity, from year-end 2013 to year-end 2018:
|Salt Lake City||UT|
5. Has that fact been reported? It seems like a great achievement.
I’m not sure if it has been reported yet.
6. How did those cities develop their solar power so much more and are there lessons learned you can share?
Some of the cities on the list quadrupled because they started from a small amount. But some, like Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Washington DC, and New York City have made substantial commitments to power their communities with solar and renewable energy, and rank highly overall in the report.
7. Are the US cities with the most solar generally considered to be ‘blue’ or Democrat-run cities?
Not necessarily. San Diego is #2 for total and per capita solar and the city has a Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, who has championed the city’s commitments to solar and moving to use 100% renewable energy. Jacksonville is top 20 in both categories and has a Republican mayor, Lenny Curry. Beyond who is in charge, solar is a bi-partisan or non-partisan issue in most places. Polling consistently shows it favored by most of the public.
8. What cities have the least solar power, and will they ever catch up?
Certainly there is room for all of these cities to catch up. However, many suffer from being located in states with poor policies to support solar development.
9. Where do you get the solar power data for your city analyses and reports?
Please refer to our detailed methodology section.