North Carolina’s recent renewable energy boom has been driven mostly by solar, according to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts. To be exact, the state saw its solar energy capacity grow by 335 MW in 2013 — making it the 3rd-fastest-growing state in the US with regard to renewable energy capacity.
That number stands out a bit more when you realize that, altogether, 343 MW of renewable energy capacity was installed in North Carolina in 2013, and all but 8 MW of that new renewable capacity was via solar energy. So solar is definitely dominating in North Carolina as of now, amongst renewables.
Other findings were that the only states that have installed more solar PV capacity than North Carolina, to date, are California and Arizona — unsurprisingly; North Carolina is 3rd overall with regards to the amount of private investment in renewable energy, at $1.2 billion in 2013; and the state is also the 5th-biggest with regard to total installed renewables capacity, at 557 MW of capacity.
The report also notes that North Carolina has, more or less, emerged as the “clean energy leader” of the southeast — owing to its “high-caliber academic institutions, robust public and private investments, and policies such as the renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard.”
One of the key drivers of the growth seen in recent years has been the prominent utility Duke Energy, which, amongst other things, recently announced plans for a new $500 million program designed to attract new investment capital to the state.
“Given North Carolina’s ample renewable resources and skilled technical workers, the state is well-situated to continue growing its clean energy economy,” the report concluded. “The state will be able to capitalize fully on these assets by preserving and strengthening state policies, such as the renewable portfolio standard; leveraging federal policies such as tax incentives; and continuing strong public and private investments in research and development.”
North Carolina’s solar industry has gotten a strong boost from three Apple solar farms built there.
While North Carolina is certainly a solar leader, it is actually 10th on a per capita solar capacity basis, and it has not avoided its own regulatory struggles, and Duke Energy hasn’t been the most loved utility by distributed solar enthusiasts.
All-in-all, rather impressive when you consider that the state had, literally, no large-scale solar projects as recently as 2007. Now the state possesses around 627 MW of installed solar capacity.
Image Credit: The Pew Charitable Trusts
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