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The best cities for solar power


In a speech this week at the University of Hawaii, former Vice President Al Gore called one key factor a "game changer" in the fight against climate change. The exponential growth in photovoltaic solar panels, he said, is "unstoppable," as is the consumers' demand for lower prices in the energy marketplace.

The former Vice President hasn't been dubbed "the Goracle" for nothing. According to a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, "The United States has more than 200 times as much solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed today as it did in 2002." source

While the top five cities for total installed solar PV capacity are unsurprising given the sunshine quota (three are in California, plus Honolulu and Phoenix), the top twenty represents every region of America and includes cities like Indianapolis, Newark and Raleigh.

The report also identifies its “Solar Stars," or cities with more than 50 watts of installed solar PV capacity per person. PV refers to something that turns something into something! In this case solar power into energy.

Honolulu comes in at number one, which is unsurprising in a state where solar electricity is already cheaper than electricity from the grid, even without government incentives. San Jose, CA., and Wilmington, DE., rank second and third.

Want to know who else is leading this "revolution"? The full lists are below, and check out Environment America's report for more information on the unique policy initiatives at play across the country.

“Solar Stars”: Cities with More Than 50 Watts of Installed Solar PV Capacity per Person

  1. Honolulu, HI
  2. San Jose, CA
  3. Wilmington, DE
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. Indianapolis, IN
  6. Phoenix, AZ
  7. San Antonio, TX
  8. New Orleans, LA

Read about other solar issues here.

Hawaii Pahu/Wikipedia


Panorama of the Haleakala crater. The islands are well known for the environmental diversity that occurs on high mountains within a trade winds field. On a single island, the climate can differ around the coast from dry tropical (< 20 in or 500 mm annual rainfall) to wet tropical; and up the slopes from tropical rainforest (> 200 in or 5000 mm per year) through a temperate climate into alpine conditions of cold and dry climate. The rainy climate impacts soil development, which largely determines ground permeability, which affects the distribution of streams, wetlands, and wet places.

San Jose, CA
San Jose, CA XAtsukex/Wikipedia

San Jose, CA

Images, from top down, left to right: Downtown San Jose, De Anza Hotel, East San Jose suburbs, Lick Observatory, Plaza de César Chávez. San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the United States, and the county seat of Santa Clara County. San Jose is the largest city within Silicon Valley, which is a major component of the greater Bay Area. It is the largest city in Northern California.

Indianapolis Excel23/Wikipedia


Clockwise from top: Downtown Indianapolis skyline, as seen from IUPUI, the Indiana Statehouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument.

Phoenix Onel5969/wikipedia


Images, from top, left to right: Papago Park at sunset, Saint Mary's Basilica, downtown Phoenix, Phoenix skyline at night, Arizona Science Center, Rosson House, Phoenix light rail, a saguaro cactus, McDowell Mountains

New Orleans
New Orleans Gonk/Wikipedia

New Orleans

From top left: A typical New Orleans mansion off St. Charles Avenue, a streetcar passing by Loyola University and Tulane University, the skyline of the Central Business District, Jackson Square, and a view of Royal Street in the French Quarter