Honolulu shines as leader in solar watts per capita

Honda’s new solar array in Torrance, California. Source: American Honda Motor Co., Inc

April 15 (Renewables Now) - Los Angeles is the US city with the most installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, while Honolulu is the leader when it comes to solar power per person, according to a new report.

“Shining Cities 2019” is a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group that presents the pair’s sixth annual survey of solar energy in America’s biggest cities. It shows that 79% of the 57 cities surveyed in all six editions have more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity since 2013. The latest edition surveys 69 cities.

The report refers to cities with 50 or more watts of solar PV capacity per capita as “Solar Stars”, a title that was held by just eight cities in 2013. Since then, 15 more have joined the list.

The table below presents the top 10 US cities when it comes to solar power per capita.

Rank City, State Per Capita Solar PV Installed (W DC/person) Change in Per Capita Rank 2017 to 2018 Total Solar PV Installed (MW DC) Total Solar PV Rank
1. Honolulu, Hawaii 646.4 0 226.5 4
2. San Diego, California 247.5 0 351.4 2
3. San Jose, California 194.9 0 201.7 5
4. Burlington, Vermont 187.3 +1 7.9 37
5. Las Vegas, Nevada 162.2 +1 104.1 9
6. Phoenix, Arizona 145.3 +1 236.2 3
7. Indianapolis, Indiana 143.5 -3 123.8 8
8. Riverside, California 138.3 +1 45.3 16
9. Denver, Colorado 129.6 -1 91.4 10
10. Albuquerque, New Mexico 128.9 +2 72.0 11

The ranking takes into consideration all solar PV capacity, from small rooftops to utility-scale parks, within the city limits and excludes solar power installed in extraterritorial jurisdictions, even if the output is contracted by municipal utilities.

While Los Angeles tops the ranking for total installed solar PV capacity with 419.9 MW DC, it takes the 14th position in terms of installations per capita.

The parties behind the report recommend that local governments should take certain steps to make full use of the nation’s solar potential, including:
- setting solar adoption goals and programmes through which to meet those goals;
- implement solar access ordinances, facilitate the permitting, zoning and inspection of projects;
- expand solar access to apartment dwellers, low-income residents, small businesses and nonprofits through community solar projects and third-party financing options;
- introduce support policies for energy storage, electric vehicle smart charging and microgrids;
- make it a requirement for new buildings to have solar systems, or at least be “solar-ready”;
- support strong state-level solar policies.

At the same time, state governments should increase renewable energy targets for utilities, adopt strong interconnection and net metering policies, encourage solar adoption through electric rate designs, rebate programmes, tax credits and financing programmes. The federal government, in turn, has to expand financing support for solar energy through the Investment Tax Credit and continue to support research in the field, Environment America and Frontier said.

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