2016 US Solar Capacity By State Recap

The U.S. added over 25,000 MW of new generation capacity in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Electric Generator Inventory report. Solar capacity additions reached a new record of 7,568 MW, more than double 2015 additions of 3,384. Solar capacity by state varied significantly as detailed in the analysis below.

As a percentage of total capacity, solar increased from 18 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2016. Note that the data includes actual additions through October with the last two months of the year based on planned additions. Of the 2016 renewable additions, nearly 60 percent were scheduled to come online during the fourth quarter. Renewable capacity additions are often highest in the final months of the year, primarily due to the timing qualifications for federal, state, or local tax incentives.

Despite significant growth in solar installations in the last 10 years, solar still only represents ~1.5 percent of electricity in the U.S. For more information related to current solar penetration rates by state, read our Solar Penetration By State recap.

Solar, wind and natural gas accounted for over 92 percent of capacity additions. Natural gas capacity additions were boosted by the lowest natural gas prices in the last 20 years. Natural gas spot prices in 2016 averaged $2.49 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the national benchmark Henry Hub, the lowest annual average price since 1999. The 1,270 MW of nuclear capacity was due to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Unit 2, the first new nuclear generation in the U.S. in the last 20 years.  

2016 Solar Capacity Additions By State

California accounted for over 36 percent of new solar capacity in the U.S. in 2016 with 2,749 MWs, and in total the top 10 states accounted for over 90 percent. North Carolina remain second behind California in 2016 with 708 MWs. The charts below provide the details for the top 10 and all states.

2016 Solar Capacity By State

Map of Solar Capacity Additions

This article was originally published by Solar Leaderboard and was republished with permission.
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David Rather is the Research Director for Solar Leaderboard, an analytics and research platform serving the U.S. solar market ( www.solarleaderboard.com ).  David leads the firm's research efforts including state level weekly reporting on installation and pricing trends.  David has over 12 years of experience within environmental policy and data science.  

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