September 3, 2020 (Investorideas.com Newswire) The U.S. solar industry has grown significantly in the last decade as solar power has become more affordable, efficient, and accessible. Since 2014, the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels has dropped by almost 50 percent. The U.S. now has over 2 million solar PV installations, which produce enough electricity each year to power more than 12 million homes. According to data from Google’s Project Sunroof, the share of solar-viable buildings that have a solar installation in the U.S. is a mere 1.2 percent, but many cities boast much larger percentages.
In the first quarter of 2020, solar made up 40 percent of new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S. The increase in solar is part of a trend toward increased utilization of renewable energy, including solar, wind, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal. As of 2018, renewables accounted for over 20 percent of total electricity capacity, up from less than 12 percent in 2009.
Compared to other nations, the U.S. ranks second (behind China) in renewable electricity capacity. When considering just solar PV capacity, the U.S. ranks third behind China and Japan. In the U.S., increases in solar capacity and generation have come from both utility-scale and distributed PV installations. Utility-scale solar facilities produce power that is fed into the electrical grid and ultimately sold to customers in different locations. On the other hand, distributed solar installations (such as commercial and residential rooftop installations) are smaller in size and produce electricity at the location it is consumed. Utility-scale solar generation has increased nearly 60-fold since 2010, and small-scale distributed solar PV generation has increased by almost 15-fold over the same time span.
While solar energy has come down greatly in cost, price is still a barrier to many U.S. households who want to invest in rooftop solar. To help offset the installation cost, a federal solar tax credit allows taxpayers to deduct 26 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system. Additionally, many states offer solar rebates for home solar energy systems. California even mandates that new construction homes have a solar PV system.
Not surprisingly, solar energy use and investment varies considerably across states and cities. Geographic areas that receive a lot of sunlight are more conducive to solar energy, but high air temperatures make PV panels less efficient. At the state level, Hawaii and California have the largest share of solar-viable buildings equipped with solar systems, at 12.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. North Dakota and South Dakota have the lowest shares of viable buildings with solar, both at close to 0.03 percent.
To determine the cities investing the most in rooftop solar energy, researchers at Porch, a marketplace for home services, analyzed the latest data on small-scale rooftop solar installations from Google’s Project Sunroof. The researchers ranked cities according to the share of viable buildings with rooftop solar. Researchers also looked at the total number of buildings with rooftop solar, the share of all buildings that are solar-viable, the total buildings that are solar-viable, and the median annual solar potential per viable roof. For context, the average annual electricity consumption for an American home is 10,972 kilowatt-hours per year.
To improve relevance, only cities with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, cities were grouped into cohorts based on population size. Small cities have 100,000-149,999 residents; midsize cities have 150,000-349,999 residents; and large cities have more than 350,000 residents.
Here are the large cities investing the most in rooftop solar:
This data comes from Google's Project Sunroof, which uses a machine learning algorithm to identify solar installations in satellite imagery. As such, the results are not always 100% accurate.
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Porch’s website: https://porch.com/advice/cities-investing-most-solar-energy
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