Houston gets plenty of sun, but it’s not doing enough to turn that sunshine into power.
That’s the finding from a new Environment Texas report that looks at a variety of data sources to track how much solar the nation’s 50 most populated cities are using.
San Antonio made the top 10 list for installed solar capacity, while Austin came in 16th. Houston fared a little worse, coming in at 33rd. But Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger says there are some recent positive signs.
“We’re seeing encouraging growth in the solar capacity for the city, going up by about a third,” he says. “And at the same time we’re seeing the municipal government make big investments in utility-scale solar.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner has supported solar growth. He praised a recently-expanded deal for the city to buy all the power – 50 megawatts – from a new West Texas solar farm.
Still, the report says Houston isn’t living up to its potential. Metzger says only .2% of the city’s rooftops have solar panels. The group argues a big reason for the slow growth is a lack of incentives from local utilities. Globally, solar is increasingly competitive against some traditional energy sources, but rooftop panels are still too expensive for many homeowners.