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Best and worst states ranked for solar industry growth

Top 5 States for Solar in 2021

1. California

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

2. Texas

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. 

4. Florida

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. 

5. Arizona

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

4. Alaska

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. 

5. Kentucky

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
California 1 2144 8,548,370 23.6 $73.7 billion
Texas 2 499 1,082,407 2.3 $11.2 b
North Carolina 3 204 859,707 7.5 $10.1 billion
Florida 4 411 842,897 3.4 $9.6 b
Arizona 5 315 810,751 8.0 $13.9 billion
Nevada 6 94 672,070 15.3 $7.8 billion
New Jersey 7 249 586,709 6.6 $14.8 b
Massachusetts 8 158 545,258 18.5 $9.1 b
Georgia 9 192 359,160 3.5 $3.7 b
New York 10 678 474,848 2.7 $7 b
Virginia 11 176 280,993 2.0 $2.8 b
Utah 12 100 442,889 8.3 $3.5 b
South Carolina 13 74 222,247 2.4 $2.3 b
Colorado 14 354 340,720 4.1 $4.3 b
Minnesota 15 153 215,771 3.4 $2.4 b
Hawaii 16 85 356,477 17.0 $3.4 b
Maryland 17 177 153,463 4.3 $3.9 b
New Mexico 18 72 287,628 6.1 $2.3 b
Oregon 19 114 144,197 2.3 $1.8 b
Indiana 20 80 111,763 0.7 $1.2 b
Connecticut 21 140 130,963 2.4 $2.4 b
Pennsylvania 22 426 96,859 0.4 $2.9 b
Illinois 23 314 89,781 0.4 $1.4 b
Idaho 24 31 79,587 3.5 $817 m
Ohio 25 238 63,137 0.4 $1.3 b
Michigan 26 188 83,045 0.4 $714 m
Wisconsin 27 152 71,572 0.5 $644 m
Iowa 28 50 54,792 0.5 $568 m
Rhode Island 29 29 73,698 6.6 $644 m
Arkansas 30 28 43,550 0.8 $486 m
Vermont 31 59 69,026 14.5 $729 mill
Tennessee 32 126 35,968 0.6 $877 m
Mississippi 33 12 34,294 0.7 $354 m
Missouri 34 119 33,187 0.7 $774 m
Alabama 35 34 30,531 0.3 $341 m
Washington 36 122 25,938 0.3 $707 m
Maine 37 47 44,523 1.4 $349 m
Louisiana 38 47 18,248 0.4 $465 m
Delaware 39 37 18,101 3.9 $504 m
New Hampshire 40 57 21,763 1.0 $351 m
Wyoming 41 9 22,382 0.4 $153 m
Montana 42 26 16,699 0.3 $160 m
Washington, D.C. 43 153 16,240 43.1 $260 m
Kansas 44 39 12,559 0.2 $134 m 
Oklahoma 45 25 9,557 0.1 $131 m
Nebraska 46 28 7,931 0.2 $91 m
Kentucky 47 41 6,241 0.2 $116 m
Alaska 48 9 1,496 0.1 $32 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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