The 20 Best Cities For Solar Power As America Prepares For An Energy 'Revolution'

The 20 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.

"This is a revolution," he warned, and it's being embraced across political and geographic lines.

Look no further than Atlanta, Georgia, Gore noted, where the "Green Tea Coalition" -- an unlikely alliance between the Tea Party and the Sierra Club -- helped promote renewable energy in the state because the Tea Party believed in increasing choice in the energy marketplace and driving down prices for everyone. It was, as The Week quipped, "laissez faire wattage."

Gore equated the staggering growth in solar to that of cell phones just twenty years ago, saying increased demand, lower costs, freedom from utility companies and the ability of developing nations to "leap frog" old technology all make solar power an unstoppable market force. (A report released earlier this week also noted that the share of total global electricity production generated by renewable energy is climbing, mainly because solar photovoltaic systems are becoming less expensive.)

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."

The report, "Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America's Solar Energy Revolution," goes on to recognize the top 20 cities for solar power, which collectively "contain more solar power today than was installed in the entire U.S. just six years ago."

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. 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, Calif., and Wilmington, Del., 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
Top 20 Solar Cities by Total Installed Solar PV Capacity
  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. San Diego, CA
  3. Phoenix, AZ
  4. San Jose, CA
  5. Honolulu, HI
  6. San Antonio, TX
  7. Indianapolis, IN
  8. New York, NY
  9. San Francisco, CA
  10. Denver, CO
  11. New Orleans, LA
  12. Sacramento, CA
  13. Jacksonville, FL
  14. Albuquerque, NM
  15. Portland, OR
  16. Austin, TX
  17. Las Vegas, NV
  18. Newark, NJ
  19. Raleigh, NC
  20. Boston, MA

Before You Go

Top Renewable Energy Sources

Top U.S. Renewable Energy Sources - 2011 (MOST RECENT DATA)