Richmond, VA -Virginia Beach ranked 23rd for solar energy per capita in the latest edition of the Environment Virginia Research and Policy Center’s report Shining Cities: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy.
The report designates Virginia Beach a ‘Solar Star’, meaning it boasts over 50 watts of solar PV capacity installed per capita. Virginia Beach is home to 35.9 megawatts of solar capacity total, which comes out to 78.1 watts per person.
“Virginia’s most populous city has now earned the title ‘Solar Star’,’ said Elly Boehmer, State Director with Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center. “This Earth Week, I’m struck by how far we’ve come toward tapping the immense power of the sun since Earth Day began back in 1970. Virginia Beach’s leadership on solar to date means a cleaner environment, healthier community and more resilient future.”
Beyond the findings in Virginia, This edition of the survey tracked data through December 2021, finding that the United States now has 121.4 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity installed. That’s enough solar energy to power more than 23 million homes. Additionally, the report found that 15 major U.S. cities recorded a tenfold increase in their solar capacity between 2014 and 2022.
Nationally, Honolulu placed first for solar energy capacity per capita, while Los Angeles finished No. 1 in total solar energy capacity installed. Leaders in per capita solar capacity by region were: Honolulu in the Pacific region; Las Vegas in the Mountain region; Indianapolis in the North Central region; San Antonio in the South Central region; Washington, D.C., in the South Atlantic region; and Burlington, Vermont, in the Northeast region.
These numbers tell the story of progress driven by pro-solar policies, many of which are outlined in the report. In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) which among many things increased the net metering cap. That same year Virginia Beach added nearly 5.5 MW of net metered solar, a 164% increase over its capacity at the end of 2019. In 2021, the city again more than doubled its capacity, adding an additional 9 MW of net metered solar.
“Thanks to the Virginia Clean Economy Act, the Commonwealth will be powered by 100% clean electricity by midcentury. Solar will continue to grow in Virginia, and we are eager to continue to see more Virginia cities join the ranks of ‘Solar Stars’,” said Boehmer.
Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting air, water and open space by investigating problems, crafting solutions and educating the public. Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.