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Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Top Solar Power States Per Capita (Updated) vs Top Solar Policy Leaders (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

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Last year, I put together rankings of the top solar power countries per capita, per GDP, and per TWh of electricity production. In January, I then created rankings of the top solar power states per capita and followed those up with rankings of the top solar power states per capita vs the top solar power countries per capita. Check out those previous rankings and some similar wind power rankings via the links on the bottom of this page.

Recently, I got end-of-2012 solar state capacity data from GTM Research — data that’s included in GTM Research and SEIA’s 4th quarter 2013 US Solar Market Insight report (the Q1 2013 report is out now). So, now, I used the provided data and state population data to put together updated top solar power states (per capita) rankings. Below are the top US solar states for total solar power capacity per capita and the top US solar states for new solar power capacity.

I’ve also received end-of-2012 solar capacity country data and will be updating those rankings and the “top solar countries vs top solar states” rankings in the coming days. Stay tuned! For now, here are the state solar rankings and some thoughts on how they compare with the top state solar policy rankings:

Top Solar Power States Per Capita (Total Solar Power Capacity)

Again, the solar power capacity data come from GTM Research and SEIA. The population data come from the United States Census Bureau, through Wikipedia.

Here’s a chart of the leaders:

solar state rankings total solar
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Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

And here’s a table of the leaders:

top solar states list per capita total
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Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

Top Solar Power States Per Capita (New Solar Power Capacity)

Here are the leaders in new solar power per capita, for solar power installed in 2012 (again, solar power capacity data come from GTM Research and SEIA, while population data come from the United States Census Bureau).

top solar power states total solar
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Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica

And the table:

top solar states list per capita new solar power
Click to embiggen.
Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica


Some of the things that stand out to me are that the top 4 states for solar power capacity (total and new) per capita — Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Jersey — don’t top Solar Power Rocks’ list of the top solar power policy states. Arizona is #7 on that list, Hawaii is #18, Nevada is #19, and New Jersey is #9. Naturally, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii all have good solar radiation levels (which is not a factor in Solar Power Rocks’ ranking). Additionally, Hawaii has very expensive electricity — electricity prices are taken into account in that ranking, but they are not a huge factor in the total score. None of that explains New Jersey’s solar power per capita leadership, which I think is partly driven by relatively high electricity prices but is largely driven by some very strong solar policies the state has had.

The solar policy leaders, according to Solar Power Rocks, and their rankings according to new solar power per capita (in parentheses) are as follows:

  1. Massachusetts (#8)
  2. Maryland (#10)
  3. New York (#16)
  4. Delaware (#7)
  5. Colorado (#12)
  6. DC (#19)
  7. Arizona (#1)
  8. New Mexico (#11)
  9. New Jersey (#3)
  10. Illinois (#20)

So, they’re all within the top 20 per capita, at least. However, they certainly aren’t a close match.

Doing the same comparison but reversed — the total solar power per capita leaders listed below and their solar policy ranking in parentheses — here’s the result:

  1. Arizona (#7)
  2. Hawaii (#18)
  3. Nevada (#19)
  4. New Jersey (#9)
  5. New Mexico (#8)
  6. California (#12)
  7. Delaware (#4)
  8. Colorado (#5)
  9. Vermont (#15)
  10. Massachusetts (#1)

And, just to be comprehensive, here’s a comparison of the new solar power per capita leaders and their solar policy rankings (almost the same as the list above):

  1. Arizona (#7)
  2. Hawaii (#18)
  3. Nevada (#19)
  4. New Jersey (#9)
  5. California (#12)
  6. Vermont (#15)
  7. Delaware (#4)
  8. Massachusetts (#1)
  9. North Carolina (#14)
  10. Maryland (#2)

So, clearly, the top solar power capacity lists don’t differ too much from the top solar policy list, but they do differ quite a bit.

One last interesting point I’ll note is that 5 of the 7 states with the best payback over 20 years (all surpassing $30,000 in savings) based on this 2011 research (see infographic below) are also in the top 6 for total solar power capacity per capita. Now that’s some correlation!

Those states are Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and California. The two states that didn’t make it very high in the solar power per capita ranking despite high savings over 20 years are Florida and New York. Notably, New York has great solar policies,… but it includes New York City, which has millions and millions of people living in apartments. Meanwhile, Florida’s solar policies are quite lame. It ranked #23 on Solar Power Rocks’ list. That is likely holding residents back from going solar in The Sunshine State. I also wonder if Florida’s high number of retirees has anything to do with the low solar power per capita ranking — they might see a solar power investment as less attractive than younger homeowners.

Click to embiggen.
Click to embiggen.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts. Yours?

And while you’re thinking, here are those links to previous CleanTechnica rankings that I mentioned at the top of the post:

  1. Top Solar Power States Per Capita
  2. Top Solar Power Countries (Per Capita, Per GDP, Per TWh of Electricity Produced, & in Total)
  3. Top Solar Power States vs Top Solar Power Countries
  4. Most Solar-Friendly States — 2013 State Solar Policy Rankings (Infographic)
  5. Top Wind Power Countries Per Capita
  6. Top Wind Power Countries Per GDP

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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.

Zachary Shahan has 7128 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan

27 thoughts on “Top Solar Power States Per Capita (Updated) vs Top Solar Policy Leaders (CleanTechnica Exclusive)

  • I have a new name for this article–The Solstice Report!!!!

    • мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

      i recently stuck that post with the infographic in our sidebar under
      solar. but planning some posts to further highlight that again.

  • The what you would save per month and over time maps need to get more exposure.

    The last one could be labeled “Could you use an extra $20k, $30k when you retire?”

    • and that’s based on 2011 data.

      i recently stuck that post with the infographic in our sidebar under solar. but planning some posts to further highlight that again.

    • @bob what should be said is “invest that extra $30k into an off grid solar system and prevent carbon loading”

      • Lisa – enough of this “carbon loading” bullshit.

        It’s just stupid.

        Putting solar on the grid cuts the use of coal.

        Going off grid does not make sense for most people. It makes sense for most to stay on the grid and push for more wind and other renewables. And then grid storage as prices become more reasonable.

          • I want to go DIY off grid little by little. Starting with 100W 24×7. Any chance we can see DIY articles along those lines?

          • What renewable source do you have aside from solar?

            The grid is pretty cheap “storage” and backup. Cleaner than a generator and cheaper than batteries.

            If you want DIY stuff get your hands on some Home Power Magazine issues. I think you can purchase copies/articles on line and your library might have copies.

          • Whoa, you gave me a case of sticker shock.

            That’s a three year paper subscription, not a single year.

            Oh, I see. You need to subscribe for three years in order to read back issues. Why not do the digital thing and get it for $24?

            Here’s another route. Get a copy of John Schaefer’s Real Goods book. It’s how I bootstrapped into solar before I discovered Home Power.

            You can get a used copy for $6 bucks at Amazon. $10 with shipping.


            John covers all the stuff you need to know. In fact, I did a two day workshop with him back before he wrote the book.

            And you could start with Backwoods Solar’s Learning Center for free and pick up the very basic info.


            Probably anything you want to know is on the web for free.

  • Holy Crap!?! The payback period in Mass. is 4 years? Why doesn’t every building there have solar?

  • Interesting graphics, and I know they are averages, but I’d love to see if the updated 2012 data matches my experience better. I “went solar” in Oregon for a net cost of about $1500 (10% of the nominal system cost), with an estimated 6-year payback. That’s a lot different from $16,000 and 14 years. Given those figures and the very large monthly savings (my savings will average about $20/month), I expect that the size of the system in these graphics is much larger than mine, missing the “sweet spot” for maximizing the tax and utility credits. Unless you are willing to spend your own money instead of taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money to go solar, it makes sense to find the optimal system size that gets you the most solar for your out-of-pocket dollar.

    If you need more but don’t have extra money lying around, be patient and wait a few years to add on. The costs will come down, and if the tax credits are still around, you’ll be eligible for another round of them.

    • yeah, i’d love to see the 2012 updates on those state savings. will see if i can wriggle them out of someone.

  • It’s all about 2012 at least for Arizona. Total capacity: 1093.5. Installed in 2012: 710.3. About 65% of Az total came online last year. Were there a couple of giant projects that turned on? For CA it’s about 40% still a huge fraction of the total.

  • It looks from the crosstab table that state solar policy has to be good enough, but beyond that doesn’t determine the volume of installation. That’s what common sense would predict. Of course, if any state suddenly adopted Japanese solar FITS, than it would shoot to the top of the installation table, but that’s not going to happen..

  • About 2:40 into the video he talks about how CA is doing so well compared to other countries and how those other countries must step up their efforts. However when comparing us to most European countries we are doing significantly worse. There was a chart just this week showing that per person or per GDP, I forget which, we are far far behind. So this Governor obviously doesn’t really know what is going on. And when somebody is passionate yet clueless it’s a sign that they really are just talking the talk…

  • With an initial investment cost on average of $17,000 and a savings over 20 years on average of just $20,000, seems like a poor choice for an investment (only 1% per year).

    Bob….I would rather put $17,000 in the stock market and have $45,000 (5% per year) in 20 years when I retire.

    • It depends on where you live. In Hawaii you’d save about $65k.

      And don’t forget that the price of solar is coming down rapidly. The US average for rooftop is over $4 while in Germany, Australia and the UK solar is being installed for $2/watt.

  • Why is it so difficult to find articles defining the least-friendly states for solar and other forms of renewable energy? I understand there are a number, such as Utah, and Florida just passed a law saying people must be connected to the power grid.

    Can you guys provide an article discussing this, the challenges people can expect to have in setting up alternative energy, etc?

  • I am assuming this is a summary blog/online article piece written on the main points of the formal report that was filed? Very interesting topic! Would you please let me know where I can get a copy of the formal report? I am interested in seeing your technical analysis. Thanks Zachary!

  • It shows in the chart that the state where on the highest ranking was the places where their are abundance of sunlight throughout the year.I agree that this places are among the places which have a longer sunny seasons .

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