Boston Ranks 19th for Solar Energy Among Large Cities

The technical potential for solar-energy generation on small buildings in Boston is equal to more than nine times the amount of solar-energy capacity currently installed. (Environment Massachusetts)

The technical potential for solar-energy generation on small buildings in Boston is equal to more than nine times the amount of solar-energy capacity currently installed. (Environment Massachusetts)

Study finds up to 15 percent of city’s electricity could be generated by rooftop solar

By ecoRI News staff

The amount of solar-energy capacity installed in Boston has tripled since 2013, according to a new report.

“In cities like Boston, the sunlight hitting the roofs of our homes, businesses, and institutions is an abundant source of pollution-free energy,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts. “We've made progress in harnessing this energy, but there’s a lot more Boston can do.”

Boston ranked ahead of Philadelphia but behind Burlington, Vt., for installed solar capacity per capita at the end of 2018.

The report, Shining Cities 2019: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy, is the sixth annual report from Environment America and Frontier Group ranking America's large cities by the total and per-capita amount of solar energy capacity installed within city limits.

From 2013 to 2018, solar-energy capacity more than doubled in 45 of 57 of the country’s largest cities.

All of the cities in the study could install far more solar-energy capacity than they currently have. In Boston, the technical potential for solar-energy generation on small buildings is equal to more than nine times the amount of solar-energy capacity currently installed, according to Environment Massachusetts.

City officials are drafting a new version of Boston’s climate action plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. According to Carbon Free Boston, a report from the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Boston University, up to 15 percent of Boston’s electricity could be generated by rooftop solar panels installed on buildings within city limits.

Last summer, environmental advocates and experts delivered a letter to Mayor Marty Walsh outlining their recommendations for Boston’s climate plan, including a requirement for new buildings to be built with solar panels on their roofs.