15 States Producing the Most Solar Energy

Senior couple with solar
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Commodity.com.

In the first few months of President Joe Biden’s administration, one of his top policy priorities has been addressing the threat of climate change — while also improving infrastructure and creating jobs to generate economic growth.

Biden has stated a goal of reaching 100% pollution-free electricity by 2035, which means dramatically scaling up renewable energy production in the U.S. To that end, Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan would include extensive tax credits, grants, and other investments in clean energy.

One of the potential beneficiaries of this focus is the solar power industry, which is seeing rapid growth as the associated costs decline. For many years, solar power was too expensive to be adopted at scale as a major source of energy production, but this has changed in recent years.

One of the biggest reasons for the decline in costs has been technological innovation. Solar technology has become more reliable and more efficient over time, which lowers the cost of generating energy.

Solar is still a relatively small part of the nation’s overall energy mix but will become an increasingly significant source as solar production continues to accelerate — particularly if the Biden administration’s climate policies and clean energy investments come to pass.

For now, however, renewables overall (17.7% of total electricity generation) still lag behind natural gas (38.4%), coal (23.4%), and nuclear (19.6%). Within the renewable category, solar (9.9% of renewable production) trails wind (40.6%) and hydroelectric (39.5%).

States Producing the Most Solar Energy

Worker installing solar panels
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To find the states where solar production is highest, researchers at Commodity.com used electricity power data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. States were ranked by annual solar production for electric power (in megawatt-hours) for 2019.

The researchers also calculated the year-over-year change in total solar energy production from 2018-2019, as well as what percentage of total energy production and renewable energy production solar accounts for.

The following are the states producing the most solar energy.

15. South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 858,546
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +68.2%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 0.9%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 14.3%

14. Virginia

Arlington, Virginia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 949,111
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +24.4%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 1.0%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 15.3%

13. Massachusetts

Fore River Bridge in Quincy, Massachusetts
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 1,163,776
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +19.0%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 5.4%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 34.7%

12. New Jersey

Morristown, New Jersey
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 1,164,721
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +17.6%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 1.6%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 57.9%

11. Colorado

Denver, Colorado
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  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 1,218,220
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +14.7%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 2.2%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 8.7%

10. Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota
IMG_191 / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 1,248,833
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +19.8%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 2.1%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 8.6%

9. New Mexico

New Mexico
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  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 1,365,900
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +1.3%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 3.9%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 16.1%

8. Georgia

Athens, Georgia
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 2,160,770
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +8.3%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 1.7%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 18.8%

7. Utah

Arches National Park
Anton Foltin / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 2,186,424
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): -1.7%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 5.6%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 51.3%

6. Florida

Sarasota, Florida
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 3,901,445
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +61.7%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 1.6%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 45.6%

5. Texas

Port Arthur Texas
Matias Wilson / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 4,365,125
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +36.2%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 0.9%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 4.8%

4. Nevada

North Las Vegas, Nevada
Wollertz / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 4,810,511
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +1.9%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 12.1%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 42.4%

3. Arizona

Sedona, Arizona
DBSOCAL / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 5,278,019
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +2.7%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 4.6%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 43.0%

2. North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway
TheBigMK / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 7,451,338
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +21.9%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 5.7%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 44.6%

1. California

Menifee, California
bonandbon / Shutterstock.com
  • Annual solar energy production (megawatt-hours): 28,331,513
  • Change in solar energy production (YoY): +5.0%
  • Solar share of total energy production: 14.0%
  • Solar share of total renewable energy production: 29.1%

Detailed Findings and Methodology

Mark Agnor / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Electricity Power Data.

To determine the states producing the most solar energy, researchers ranked states by their annual solar energy production for the electric power industry, measured in megawatt-hours, for the year 2019.

The researchers also calculated the year-over-year change in total solar energy production from 2018-2019, as well as what percentage of total energy production and renewable energy production solar accounts for.

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