How Solar Power is Revolutionizing American Cities like Chicago
As of 2016, the United States of America possessed 40 gigawatts of solar power capability. This is 2 times the amount of solar power capability that the country possessed in 2015, and 20 times what the country possessed in 2009. It’s clear that solar power is growing in a big way. While individuals have been using solar power for quite a while now, cities are finally starting to jump on the solar power bandwagon.
Which Cities are Using Solar Power?
Currently, there are 20 cities which account for 6.5% of all the country’s solar power capacity. It should come as no surprise that, due to year-round sunny weather, a great number of these cities are located in the southwest. Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix lead the way in the southwest, with each city claiming at least 115 installed solar PVs (Photovoltaic devices).
However, the southwest is not the only region of the country that’s making use of solar power. In fact, ranking 4th in total installed solar PVs is Indianapolis, Indiana; a mid-size midwest city which deals with around 6 months of gloomy winter weather yearly. This just goes to show that perpetual sunlight is not required to harness solar energy.
Other non-southwest cities to make the top 20 include Denver, Colorado, New York City, Portland, Oregon, Newark, New Jersey, and Boston, Massachusetts.
How is Solar Power Usage Helping Cities?
Cities that make use of solar power have seen improvements in a number of areas. Thus far, solar power has helped cities to:
- Reduce air pollution
These days, cities are doing everything in their power to cut down on their total carbon footprint. The vast majority of greenhouses gases come from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. By using more solar power and less fossil fuels, these cities are reducing their total carbon dioxide and methane emissions, thus actively combatting global warming and climate change.
- Strengthen local economies
It’s estimated that around 260,000 Americans currently have jobs which have to do with solar power. Cities with more solar power usage obviously possess more jobs having to do with solar power. As the usage of solar power grows, the number of jobs having to do with solar power will also grow, thus strengthening economies and fostering larger workforces.
- Use less water
The fact of the matter is that, when coal and oil are used to power a city, a massive amount of water is needed to cool down energy facilities and the like. However, when solar power is used, water is not required in any remarkable way. In a time where clean water is becoming more and more difficult for cities to find, it’s important that it is conserved as much as possible.
What is the Future of City Solar Power Usage?
While some American cities are still lagging when it comes to solar power, others are taking great initiatives to increase the influence of solar power in their jurisdictions. In fact, some cities have even passed laws requiring new buildings to install solar PV panels.
The state of California seems to be leading the charge into municipal solar power usage, with three of its cities requiring that solar PV panels be installed on newly built buildings. These three cities include San Francisco, Lancaster, and Sebastopol. While these are currently the only three cities in the United States with this requirement, it seems as though many more are about to follow.
For example, Albuquerque, New Mexico has passed a bill pledging to ensure that 25% of its energy usage comes from solar power by 2025. Other American cities pledging to up their solar energy usage include Atlanta, Georgia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Austin, Texas, to name a few.
Though there are efforts being made by fossil fuel lobbyists to stifle the growth of solar power in the United States, solar’s rapid growth over the last decade indicates that it probably won’t be slowed down for long. To put it simply, solar power is the future of energy in the United States.
If you would like to learn more about solar power and the significant benefits associated with it, call us today. We have worked on many solar power installations in Chicago and surrounding areas. We are the experts.