Top Solar Power States (Per Capita)

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I love rankings as much as the next guy, and as a cleantech fanatic, I especially love the rankings of states, countries, companies, etc. that show who’s leading in solar power or wind power installations. However, what are often more important than absolute figures are relative figures. By looking at who’s leading relative to various important metrics, we can focus in on who has great policies and who has horrible policies (and who has mediocre policies).

Back in 2011 and 2012, I created some relative rankings of countries based on solar power per capita, solar power per GDP, and solar power per TWh of electricity production; as well as relative rankings of countries based on wind power per capita, wind power per GDP, and wind power per TWh of electricity production. However, for a long time, I’ve been wanting to also find data on total solar power capacity per state so that I could see how the different states compare relative to such matters. For various reasons (i.e. I overbook myself day after day), I never got around to asking SEIA or GTM Research for those numbers. Luckily, though, I met and had several good chats with GTM Research solar analyst Scott Burger at Masdar’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, and I mentioned this idea to him (and the need for that state data). With great appreciation, he delivered.

So, based on Q3 2012 data from GTM Research and July 2011 data from the US Census Bureau, here are the top solar states per capita (click here to see a much larger version of the bar chart):

Some initial thoughts:

1. My home state of Florida (aka the “Sunshine State”) is pretty freakin’ behind when it comes to installing solar power. Of course, I already knew that, but this is quite sad, given its tremendous solar resources and large population.

2. California, despite being clear in the lead in absolute terms, is only #6 in relation to solar power per resident.

3. As everyone knows, New Jersey is rockin’ it, but Arizona actually has it beat. That’s not a huge surprise — Arizona is one of the first states hitting grid parity — but I did think NJ was going to be #1. I guess there really are a ton of people packed into that small state. (Notably, Arizona just took a big step backwards on the solar front.)

4. Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana… what the heck are you doing? Get some decent solar policies in place and take advantage of your amazing solar resources!

If you’re in Arizona, New Jersey, Hawaii, New Mexico, or Nevada, share the good news with your friends and family!

If you’re in pretty much any other state, share the not-so-good news with your friends and family! And work to improve the solar policies in your state.

If you don’t really care about all this, I don’t know how you made it down this far, but here’s a video of a penguin laughing for your efforts.

And last but not least, don’t forget to go solar.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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