Utah, USA -- The Environment America Research & Policy Center has released its annual report ranking the top 10 U.S. states with the most cumulative solar electric capacity installed per-capita. These states are (in alphabetical order) Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and North Carolina.
Check out last year's rankings here and compare the results.
Far from being a mere assemblage of facts and figures, Lighting the Way: The Top Ten States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2013 also provides insightful commentary on the forces driving the U.S. solar market to previously unprecedented levels of success, as well as the challenges faced in coming years. The report also serves as an outline for how that success can continue to be leveraged.
One of the report’s most illuminating bits of information tells us that 26 percent of the U.S. population (as represented by the aforementioned ten states) supports 87 percent of the country’s total installed solar capacity. According to Rob Sargent, energy program director for Environment America, that’s less a result of physical solar exposure and more a result of having the will to make it work.
“The biggest predictor of success in solar is a commitment from the top, and the implementation of policies to back up that commitment,” Sargent said. “There are some places that rank high because their solar resources are better, and other places where solar fares better in the marketplace because of the high cost of electricity. But on average, solar is succeeding in the places where people want it to succeed, and have acted on that.”
Environment America’s report also shows that solar energy is experiencing a meteoric rise in the United States, brought on by a drop of 60 percent in the cost of installed solar systems since the beginning of 2011. Sargent pointed to programs such as the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, as well as the continuing development of better business models, as some of the primary driving forces. “All of these things are coming together,” Sargent said. “But they wouldn’t have done so if there hadn’t been demand created through solar carve-outs, long-term contract programs and rebates.”
Counting Down the Top 10 Solar States of 2013
The following list represents Environment America’s top ten solar rankings, listed in reverse order by cumulative capacity per resident. The data was provided by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).