Top 10 States for Solar Electricity Generation | SaveOnEnergy®

Top 10 States for Solar Energy

Top 10 solar states and where Texas ranks among them

Solar power for your home or business has increased considerably over the last decade. To see how states ranked in 2020 solar electricity generation, we looked at data from the most recent statistics compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Check out which U.S. states are the trendsetters in adopting solar energy and which states are lagging behind. 

If you’re thinking about getting solar power for your home or solar panels for your RV, now is a great time. The cost of solar panels has come down in recent years, plus there are various options for financing, leasing solar panels, or entering into a solar PPA.

Solar power by state 

To assess solar power by state, we looked at two data points provided by the EIA: utility-scale solar generation and small-scale solar generation. 

Utility-scale solar encompasses projects such as solar farms. The EIA defines utility-scale solar as “power plants that have at least one megawatt (MW) of electricity generation capacity.” Small-scale solar is energy from residential solar panels or similar minor electricity-producing operations. Small-scale solar systems “have less than one MW generation capacity.”

Put another way, one MW of energy can power between 500 to 900 homes, depending on what part of the country you are in, according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Many small-scale solar system installations are found on either buildings or homes, with residential solar making up 61% of the total.

Top 10 best states for solar energy

Here are the top 10 solar producers of 2020, based on EIA data. Solar generation is measured in billion kWh, so for readability, we rounded each figure to the nearest tenths.

State Utility-scale solar electricity generation, 2020 (in billion kWh) Small-scale solar photovoltaic electricity generation, 2020 (in billion kWh) Total solar electricity generation
California 30.5 17.5 48.0
Texas 7.9 1.6 9.5
North Carolina 8.9 0.4 9.3
Arizona 6.0 2.9 8.9
Florida 6.6 1.1 7.7
Nevada 5.3 0.9 6.2
Georgia 3.9 0.3 4.2
New Jersey 1.6 2.5 4.1
Massachusetts 1.6 2.3 3.9
New York 1.1 2.3 3.4

California solar energy

Leading the pack in solar generation is sunny California. Between utility- and small-scale solar systems, California produced 48 billion kWh in 2020. California solar energy generation will continue to grow since the state now requires new homes to have solar panels. 

Texas solar energy

The jump from first to second place in regards to solar energy generation is a significant gap of over 38 billion kWh. Still, Texas is consistently the runner-up behind California when it comes to nationwide solar energy use. Most Texas solar energy comes from power plants; however, more efficient solar panels and net-metering benefits are sending residential solar on an upward trend in the state. 

North Carolina  solar energy

North Carolina actually surpasses Texas in utility-scale solar production, but lags behind in small-scale solar use. However, North Carolina solar energy is on the rise as residents see the benefits of solar in the state that regularly gets over 200 sunny days per year.

Arizona solar energy

As the number one U.S. state that gets the most sun, it’s no surprise that Arizona is a leader in small-scale solar, second only to California. Arizona homeowners with access to plenty of sun and the best solar panels are often able to eliminate their monthly power bills completely. However, Arizona solar energy still has a ways to go in the way of utility-scale solar, which contributes to its overall fourth place rank in solar energy production.  

Florida solar energy

Florida solar energy is still mainly generated by large-scale solar farms, which leaves a lot of room for untapped potential in the Florida solar market. 

Nevada solar energy

Nevada has been on the cutting edge of solar technology since the 1980s. With a helpful property tax exemption for large-scale solar systems, Nevada solar energy is booming. 

Georgia solar energy

Georgia has the lowest amount of small-scale solar of any state in the top 10 list. However, major changes are in the works for Georgia solar energy since Atlanta has set a 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2035.

New Jersey solar energy

The Garden State is one of the few states in this list where small-scale solar outweighs utility-scale generation. Hopefully, commercial businesses will hop on the New Jersey solar energy trend within the next few years. 

Massachusetts solar energy

This small but mighty state is the only New England state to make the top 10. Massachusetts solar energy commitment started over 40 years ago in the 1970s, and the state’s homeowner-friendly policies help ensure that solar stays an attractive option. 

New York solar energy

The state that is home to the “City That Never Sleeps” is another high-producing solar region. Plus, New York has net-metering programs that benefit residential solar owners, as well as the New York VDER tariff, which compensates large-scale solar for adding energy to the state’s power grid.

Total solar electricity generation by state

The following states aren’t in the top 10 yet, but they are making strides towards solar power. With the federal solar tax credit and great solar batteries that keep your home powered even when the sun is down, residential solar is more beneficial and attainable than ever before. 

See where your state lands in this list of the remaining U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C., based on solar electricity generation.

State Utility-scale solar electricity generation, 2020 (in billion kWh) Small-scale solar photovoltaic electricity generation, 2020 (in billion kWh) Total solar electricity generation
Utah 2.5 0.5 3.0
Colorado 1.5 0.7 2.2
South Carolina 1.8 0.4 2.2
New Mexico 1.7 0.4 2.1
Minnesota 1.8 0.1 1.9
Hawaii 0.5 1.2 1.7
Virginia 1.5 0.2 1.7
Maryland 0.6 1.0 1.6
Oregon 1.1 0.3 1.4
Connecticut 0.2 0.7 0.9
Pennsylvania 0.2 0.6 0.8
Idaho 0.6 0.1 0.7
Indiana 0.4 0.2 0.6
Illinois 0.1 0.5 0.6
Missouri 0.1 0.4 0.5
Rhode Island 0.2 0.3 0.5
Alabama 0.4 0.0 0.4
Arkansas 0.3 0.1 0.4
Mississippi 0.4 0.0 0.4
Ohio 0.2 0.2 0.4
Tennessee 0.3 0.1 0.4
Michigan 0.2 0.2 0.4
Vermont 0.2 0.2 0.4
Louisiana 0.0 0.3 0.3
Washington 0.0 0.3 0.3
Iowa 0.0 0.2 0.2
Kansas 0.1 0.1 0.2
Wisconsin 0.1 0.1 0.2
Wyoming 0.2 0.0 0.2
New Hampshire 0.0 0.2 0.2
Delaware 0.1 0.1 0.2
Kentucky 0.0 0.1 0.1
Maine 0.0 0.1 0.1
Oklahoma 0.1 0.0 0.1
Nebraska 0.1 0.0 0.1
Washington, D.C. 0.0 0.1 0.1
North Dakota 0.0 0.0 0.0
South Dakota 0.0 0.0 0.0
Montana 0.0 0.0 0.0
West Virginia 0.0 0.0 0.0
Alaska 0.0 0.0 0.0

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