New study ranks Albuquerque the no. 4 U.S. city for per capita solar

Albuquerque among leading cities behind nationwide solar power boom
For Immediate Release

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Albuquerque ranked no. 4 in the U.S. for installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity per capita in the latest edition of the Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center’s report Shining Cities: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy. The report, which is the eighth edition of America’s most comprehensive survey of installed solar PV capacity in major U.S. cities, designates Albuquerque a ‘Solar Superstar,’ meaning it boasts 100 or more watts of solar PV capacity installed per capita. 

According to the research, Albuquerque is home to 167 megawatts of total solar capacity, which comes out to about 296 watts per person. In addition to ranking fourth in the nation for its solar capacity per capita, the city comes in ninth for total installed capacity. 

“New Mexico’s biggest city is also one of the biggest cities for solar in the U.S.,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “The progress we’ve made toward tapping the immense power of the sun since we started celebrating Earth Day in 1970 is truly amazing, and Albuquerque is a shining example. Thanks to the great work this city has done to take advantage of its abundant desert sunshine, we’ll all be able to enjoy cleaner air and a more liveable climate. That’s worth celebrating, on Earth Day and every day.”

Both the state of New Mexico and the city of Albuquerque have taken actions to promote the adoption of solar energy and other renewable energy sources. In 2019, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act into law, including renewable energy standards and establishing a target for reaching zero-carbon electricity statewide. The state is now one of nine with similar commitments in place. Locally, the City of Albuquerque has set a goal of powering 100% of its municipal operations with renewable energy. The city is on track to reach over 80% renewable electricity for city operations this year, thanks in large part to multiple solar installations.  

“In our high desert city, protecting our natural resources and landscape is a legacy that has been passed down for generations,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “We aren’t waiting, we’re acting now to combat climate change. Albuquerque is a national leader in the transition to renewable energy because we know this is urgent and we know it is achievable. It’s why we have installed panels on dozens of City-owned buildings, support home and business owners’ work to cut emissions, and formed an innovative partnership to launch a 50-megawatt solar field this year with the Jicarilla Apache Nation and partners.”

Beyond the findings in New Mexico, 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.

Regionally, Albuquerque placed second in the Mountain region for per capita solar energy capacity and third for total solar energy capacity installed.

These numbers tell the story of progress driven by pro-solar policies, many of which are outlined in the report. Some of those include: 100% targets like New Mexico’s, automated solar permitting systems that make it faster and easier to go solar and programs that fairly compensate solar producers for the clean electricity they share with their neighbors. 

“Cities like Albuquerque that are committed to growing solar power have seen it take off thanks to their hard work,” said Neumann. “For the sake of a cleaner, healthier and more energy independent future, we need more Albuquerques all across the country. Local and state leadership will continue to be crucial to continuing our remarkable solar progress to date and picking up the pace even more.”