Solar energy use is increasing across the globe. Here are the four cities leading the charge.
Around the world, cities and towns are signing up to solar and other forms of clean energy – in fact, the number of cities reporting they are now predominantly powered by clean energy has more than doubled since 2015. Solar generation is proving particularly popular with local governments because solar panels can easily be installed on existing infrastructure, such as public buildings.
Here are four cities leading the way in solar power generation.
In Nairobi, it’s now compulsory for houses with three or more bedrooms to have solar hot-water systems.
Los Angeles, USA
While still plagued by problems with unclean air, The City of Angels is remodelling itself as a leader in solar energy. Mayor Eric Garcetti has made promoting solar power a priority of his administration, funding large-scale solar-panel installations on public buildings such as the Los Angeles Convention Centre while introducing buyer-incentive schemes for householders and businesses and streamlining the permit process. The result? Los Angeles now has more solar photovoltaic capacity than any other city in America.
While some localities are making long-term plans for vast solar farms or other big solar infrastructure, others are looking at smaller changes that can be implemented quickly. For example Toronto’s new innovation program UPPlift: Toronto is funding several technologies that will reduce the city’s reliance on fossil fuels while enhancing civic life, such as solar-powered “smart benches” that will charge mobile phones and offer wi-fi connectivity. And Toronto’s solar-tech community is forging ahead: local company SkyPower has just announced that it’s building a $1 billion solar farm in Uzbekistan.
The Kenyan government has long been proactive about leading the country towards a solar future, and its efforts are particularly evident in the capital, Nairobi. It’s now compulsory for houses with three or more bedrooms and other large buildings to have solar hot-water systems installed, but many are going further: for example, the United Nations building in Nairobi recently unveiled Africa’s largest rooftop solar installation. Nairobi’s commitment to solar is turning it into Africa’s de facto hub for solar technology, which many believe will become the continent’s dominant energy source in the future. Major trade shows such as Solar Africa also help to boost the city’s economy.
Hawaii’s capital has turned a problem – the high cost of importing fossil fuels from the US mainland – into an opportunity, investing heavily in solar and encouraging citizens and businesses to do the same. In 2015, the Hawaiian State Legislature became the first American state to set a 100% renewable energy target (for 2045), which has encouraged Honolulu residents and city departments to innovate. Honolulu now has more solar capacity per capita than any other American city thanks to widespread private installations (encouraged by incentive schemes) and a strong uptake of electric cars. In 2017, Hawaiian Electric Industries reported almost 27% of grid power across Hawaii was coming from renewable sources, primarily solar.
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