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The Boston Globe

Opinion

RENÉE LOTH

The sun state

Mass. has surprising potential for solar power, and the state offers plenty of tools to turn rooftops into clean-energy generators

Looking for a fun diversion on a sunny summer afternoon? If you live in Boston, check out the city’s online solar map, which shows the solar power projects, large and small, that have been installed throughout the city. You’ll be astonished, as I was, to see how many of your workaday neighbors have gone solar — and not just in the city’s urban hipster quarters. The Renew Boston website includes an interactive tool that lets you estimate how much solar potential is on your own roof, and how much money (not to mention greenhouse gas and toxic particulate matter) you could save by making the switch.

Wind power seems to get all the attention (and more government subsidies), but solar has been quietly gaining among renewable energy sources. Massachusetts ranks seventh among the states in the amount of solar capacity installed per capita, not far behind big-sky states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada — with more natural advantages. This spring the state announced it had met its goal of installing 250 megawatts of solar energy (enough to power 37,000 homes), four years ahead of schedule. Nationally, according to a new study by the advocacy group Environment Massachusetts, America’s solar capacity has tripled just in the last two years.

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