Raleigh ranks 15th nationwide per capita for solar energy projects

Raleigh leads the state in solar power installments and ranks 15th nationwide per capita, according to a report issued Thursday by Environment North Carolina.

The report lists only two North Carolina cities among the nation’s 57 top solar municipalities. The state’s second-ranked city, Charlotte, is the nation’s 30th per capita and 26th overall in solar installment, with 6 megawatts of installed solar power compared with Raleigh’s 12 megawatts.

The report lists U.S. cities on a per capita basis and overall, ranking Raleigh 15th per capita and 19th overall.

Honolulu, with 91 megawatts of installed solar power, ranks as the nation’s top city for solar development per capita, but fifth overall. Los Angeles, with 132 megawatts, ranks first overall, but 13th per capita.

Environment North Carolina’s report considers solar power installment within city limits only, excluding North Carolina’s sprawling solar farms that are located in rural areas and produce the vast majority of the state’s solar-generated electricity.

In all, North Carolina had more than 500 megawatts of solar power producing electricity in 2013, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. A number of the state’s solar farms are sized at 5 megawatts, and several under development will have capacities of 20 megawatts and 75 megawatts.

By contrast, Raleigh’s largest solar installations are 1.7 megawatts, at a First Citizens Bank data center; and 1 megawatts, at a Holiday Inn at Crabtree Valley Mall; while Charlotte’s biggest is 1 megawatt, located at an Ikea.

Staff writer John Murawski