As renewable energy grows in popularity – and associated prices, conversely, drop – states across the nation are competing to lead the charge in the dawn of a new energy era. To help clarify who is winning the race and who is falling behind, the Solar Energy Industries Association recently released its quarterly rankings of solar industry strength in each state and predicts the potential for growth over the next five years. Read on to see where the solar industry is thriving and where it’s stalling out.
Top 5 States for Solar in 2021
California ranked as the top state for solar – by a long shot. And it’s no surprise since the Golden State enjoys almost 300 sunny and partly-sunny days per year. Solar is a booming business in CA, with the state investing over $73 billion in solar technology and providing generous tax incentives and property tax exemptions for residents who get solar panels for their homes.
Texas, a state known for having its own power grid, is next on the list of top solar states. However, there’s a very large gap between first and second place on this list. Texas’s total solar energy investment is $11 billion, which is $62 billion less than California’s spending. And the results are pronounced, since TX gets just over two percent of its electricity from solar compared to CA’s 23 percent. That said, TX is still leading the way in residential solar panels among the nation, and has the potential for exponential growth in the solar industry.
3. North Carolina
North Carolina’s commitment to solar energy has earned the state a spot in the top five for the last half-decade. As another state that sees long stretches of sunny days annually, NC gets a total of 7.5% of its electricity from solar, which is higher than Texas and Florida, two other states in the top five, combined.
It’s no surprise that the Sunshine State is in the top five for solar panels. With an almost $10 billion total solar investment and just over three percent of the state’s electricity coming from solar, it’s clear that solar panels in Florida are still on the uphill climb when it comes to maxing out solar capacity.
Known for its dry heat and the Grand Canyon, Arizona rounds out the top five solar states. Like its neighbor to the west, AZ invests heavily in solar energy, coming in second only to CA in the amount of funds invested into solar. And the state’s dedication to solar is yielding results, with eight percent of the state’s electricity coming from solar energy.
Worst 5 States for Solar in 2021
1. North Dakota
North Dakota gets half the number of sunny days as California, which could account for its position as last on this list. Adding to its dismal solar turnout is the fact that ND has just seven solar companies state-wide and currently gets zero percent of its electricity from solar.
2. South Dakota
South Dakota beats out its neighbor to the north by the thinnest of margins. The Mount Rushmore State has ten solar companies at last count (as of Q1 2021), providing approximately 450 solar jobs. Still, South Dakota invests double the amount of ND, with a four million total solar investment throughout the state.
3. West Virginia
It may seem odd to see the sunny state of West Virginia this low on the list. However, WV has long been a leader in coal production and coal mining. Almost 14,000 West Virginians have jobs related to the coal industry, and there are “currently 14 coal-fired electric generating facilities” in the state, according to WV.gov.
Alaska ranks fourth from the bottom in solar generation. Though it’s invested over 32 million in solar, Alaska is home to just nine solar companies. Solar in AK is further complicated by the fact that cities like Anchorage get a whopping 19 hours of sunlight per day in the summer, but spend most of the winter months in near-darkness.
The Bluegrass State is low on this list, but KY may be due for a solar renaissance. With 41 solar companies and a 116 million total investment, KY is seeing strides toward solar synergy. Major corporations, such as General Motors, have installed solar farms in the Bowling Green area of Kentucky. However, some Kentuckians object to industrial solar farms taking over land formerly used for farming and cattle grazing.
Best States for solar panels:
|State||SEIA Ranking 2021||# of companies||Residences powered by solar||% of state’s electricity from solar||Total solar investment in state (millions|
|North Carolina||3||204||859,707||7.5||$10.1 billion|
|New Jersey||7||249||586,709||6.6||$14.8 b|
|New York||10||678||474,848||2.7||$7 b|
|South Carolina||13||74||222,247||2.4||$2.3 b|
|New Mexico||18||72||287,628||6.1||$2.3 b|
|Rhode Island||29||29||73,698||6.6||$644 m|
|New Hampshire||40||57||21,763||1.0||$351 m|
|Washington, D.C.||43||153||16,240||43.1||$260 m|
|West Virginia||49||12||1,134||0.03||$33 m|
|South Dakota||50||10||213||0.02||$4 m|
|North Dakota||51||7||113||0||$2 m|
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