Shining Cities

The Top US Cities for Solar Energy

Michigan cities lags behind their peers across the country in installing solar power in the last year in a ranking of cities nationwide for solar energy capacity (per capita). The results come from the seventh edition of Shining Cities: The Top US Cities for Solar Energy, a new report released today by Environment Michigan Research & Policy Center. It is the most comprehensive survey available of installed solar capacity in major U.S. cities.


Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center

Solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has 77.7 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed – more than enough to power one in every 10 homes in America. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them. America’s major cities have played a key role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. As population centers, they are major sources of electricity demand and, with millions of rooftops suitable for solar panels, they have the potential to be major sources of clean energy production as well.

Our seventh annual survey of solar energy in America’s biggest cities finds that the amount of solar power installed in just seven U.S. cities exceeds the amount installed in the entire United States at the end of 2010. Of the 57 cities surveyed in all seven editions of this report, almost 90 percent more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity between 2013 and 2019.

To continue America’s progress toward renewable energy, cities, states and the federal government should adopt strong policies to make it easy for homeowners, businesses and utilities to “go solar.”

Some of the cities in this report could generate hundreds of times more solar power than they do today. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study estimated that building rooftops alone are technically capable of hosting 1,118 gigawatts – enough solar energy to cover the annual electricity needs of more than 130 million American homes. Cities can go even further by encouraging stand-alone utility-scale solar installations.

To take advantage of the nation’s vast solar energy potential and move America toward 100 percent renewable energy, city, state and federal governments should adopt a series of strong pro-solar policies.