HOUSTON - Solar capacity in Houston more than doubled last year, from 20.6 megawatts (MW) in 2018 to 42.53 MW in 2019. In a sign of a surging solar market, the increase marked the second year in a row of triple digit growth. The results come from the seventh edition of Shining Cities 2020: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy, a new report released today by Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. It is the most comprehensive survey available of installed solar capacity in major U.S. cities.
“Houston’s leadership on solar has not only provided residents with clean, renewable power, but has also given other cities an excellent example on how to make it happen,” said Catherine Fraser of Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. “Despite the current slowdown in solar development due to COVID-19, the remarkable progress of the past year is worth highlighting.”
The report comes on the heels of Houston’s adoption of a Climate Action Plan, which set a goal that 14% of city electricity come from rooftop solar by the year 2050 and proposed new requirements for solar on commercial and industrial properties.
“I am so proud that the City of Houston, the energy capital of the world, is the first major city in the U.S. to commit to using 100% renewable energy,” said Houston City Councilmember Abbie Kamin. “From harnessing the power of solar, to renewable energy innovation, and beyond, we have an opportunity to lead our country forward.”
"We know that more rooftop solar is good for Houstonians and all Texans because of its potential to bring down long-term energy costs, inject dollars into the local economy and support good-paying jobs at a time when they are sorely needed," said Solar United Neighbors’ Texas Program Director Hanna Mitchell.
“Houston’s emergence as a leading clean energy city has positively impacted its regional economy and strengthened the resiliency of its energy infrastructure. Despite the pandemic and oil downturn, Houston continues to create new clean energy jobs with now over 100 solar companies and 30 wind energy companies calling Houston home,” said Jose Beciero, Senior Director of Global Energy 2.0 with the Greater Houston Partnership. “The unique combination of Houston’s talented energy workforce, energy research expertise, ecosystem to support energy tech startups and innovation, energy-intensive industries, and rapidly growing population makes it a perfect market for future solar development.”
Beyond the findings in Houston, the report examined national solar power in major cities over the past seven years. The analysis found that 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.
Overall, this year’s Shining Cities survey ranked 70 of America’s major cities by solar energy capacity. Honolulu placed first overall for solar energy capacity per capita, while Los Angeles finished No. 1 in total solar energy capacity installed. San Antonio led the state and came in 5th place nationally for total solar within its city limits. Austin Energy ranked first among municipally owned utilities for per capita solar capacity of all solar owned or contracted (including outside city limits), by supplying more than 1,500 watts per person of solar energy to its customers.
These numbers show tremendous progress, but the continued implementation of key policies, like those outlined in Environment Texas Research & Policy Center’s Renewables on the Rise report, will be critical to keep clean energy growing.
“With the continued growth in solar at risk in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we must make smart policy choices in this space," said Fraser. "That means taking steps to build the future we need, by investing in infrastructure that advances a future powered entirely by renewable energy sources."
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center works for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate.