Shining Cities 2017. How Smart Local Policies are Expanding Solar Power in America

Solar power grew at a record-breaking pace in 2016. The United States now has 42 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy capacity, enough to power 8.3 million homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 52.3 million metric tons annually.1 Hundreds of thousands of Americans, especially in our cities, have invested in their own solar panels or solar projects in their communities 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 as well.

As of the end of 2016, 20 cities—representing just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area—accounted for 5 percent of U.S. solar PV capacity. These 20 cities have nearly 2 GW of solar PV capacity—nearly as much solar power as the entire country had installed at the end of 2010.