Many American citizens call the country's largest cities home, which is why residential solar could go a long way in these urban communities.
Solar energy generation has been growing steadily over the past few years as the U.S. has pushed to increase the amount of renewable power consumed in the country. This drive toward cleaner energy has emerged with the increasing economic toll that global climate change has inflicted upon the country. According to White House figures, Superstorm Sandy cost the U.S. economy roughly $65 billion as much of New York City and the surrounding area were left submerged underwater and infrastructure ruined.
This not only cost the American economy but home and business owners who live in the area, as many were left without power for extended periods of time. Through increases in renewable energy deployment, the nation can cut back on its dependence on high-carbon emitting fossil fuels, while also helping cut down on home energy bills.
Financial benefits of residential solar
A home solar installation can make a huge impact in reducing monthly energy expenses. By generating one's own electricity independent of the utility, energy customers eliminate the need to purchase their own power. Especially in regions that are densely populated, like New York City, electricity rates can be especially high due to the high demand in the region.
Even if one is wary of purchasing their system outright, he or she can sign a solar lease. Rather than the resident owning the system in this case the, a third party owns the system and sells the power to the home owner at a low fixed rate that is less expensive that the utility's.
While system ownership yields larger returns, both options produce savings, and shift dependence away from the fossil fuels that are contributing to global warming. In fact these power plants in the U.S. produce about 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions.
Cities yield strong solar potential
The world urban population continues to grow. According to the Kaiser Foundation 51 percent of the world's people lives in cities, but in the U.S. this figure is even larger at 79 percent.
This means that a large portion of today's residential energy customers live in urbanized areas. Fortunately, new findings from the Frontier Group indicate that there is a bevy of opportunity for solar growth in the country's cities. According to the study entitled "Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America's Solar Energy Revolution," Los Angeles is the largest city when it comes to installed solar capacity at 132 megawatts, followed up by San Diego and Phoenix. These cities both lie in states that have particularly strong solar policies, however, cities in states that are not particularly known for their sunshine also made the list.
New York City, for instance, has 33 megawatts installed ranking it 8th in the nation, while Newark, New Jersey and Boston have 13 megawatts and 12 megawatts installed, respectively. Another metric that the study looked at examined how much solar was installed per person. These results yielded some even more encouraging results. For instance, Wilmington, Delaware, – not a particularly populous state – has about 7 megawatts of solar installed. But when it comes to electricity installed per capita this averages out to around 96 watts per person, ranking it third in the nation for this measurement.
These results are encouraging because it means that the places where the vast majority of U.S. citizens live can support strong renewable energy supplies. In doing so, residential solar can continue to grow, bringing down the utility bills for many, and shifting dependence away from fossil fuels.