With an increase from 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power generation in 2010 to over 90.1 billion kWh in 2020, solar energy has been one of the fastest-growing sources of power generation in the U.S. in recent years. Renewable energy has been growing in popularity and necessity over the years and the administration is encouraging boosting climate resiliency, and advancing clean energy projects. The government has stated a goal of reaching 100% pollution-free electricity by 2035, which means dramatically scaling up renewable energy production in the U.S. The focus for 2022 is also connecting communities to solar power and lowering electricity bills.
As 2022 continues to look like a prime year for solar power in the United States, which states are leading the charge?
California is without a doubt paving the way, both in terms of total solar energy production and the percentage of electricity derived from solar. California produces more solar energy overall than Texas, which came in second. Nearly 25% of the electricity in California is generated by solar energy. Given the fact that the state experiences roughly 300 sunny or partly sunny days each year, this makes sense.
Aiming to produce 60% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2045, California also has one of the most ambitious renewable portfolio standards of any state - they were early adopters of solar power since they started passing regulations in 1976 encouraging the use of green energy. Furthermore, the state has made over $73 billion in investments in solar technology and offers tax breaks and exemptions from property taxes to those who install solar panels.
In terms of solar energy generation and
installation, Texas is among the most developed states in the US. For instance, Texas built 1,525 megawatts of solar capacity in 2021, which is equal to 45% of the capacity installed in the entire year of 2020. Texas is the nation's leader in the installation of residential solar panels even though the state only gets slightly more than 2.8 percent of its electricity from solar sources.
North Carolina ranked third in installed solar capacity countrywide at the end of the third quarter of 2021, with over 7,000 MW. Solar energy generates more than 7% of the state's electricity (compared to just over 2 percent nationally). The Solar Property Tax Exemption policy in North Carolina offers a sizeable income tax credit that motivates people and companies to install solar power in unprecedented numbers.
Community solar programs, while not a major player, offer another way for people to benefit from renewable energy without having to make their own technology investments. In North Carolina, there are numerous community solar programs, especially in cooperative and municipal utility areas.
Florida connected 40,395 new household solar systems in 2021, adding a total of around 342 MW to the state's capacity. With these additions, the state's total number of household solar systems now stands at 130,947, or little under 1.2 GW of capacity. The state had registered 90,552 systems with a combined capacity of 835 MW at the end of 2020, therefore the additions in 2021 indicate an increase of slightly under 45% in new systems and around 41% in capacity added. The Florida rooftop solar market had tremendous growth in 2021 alone, and this development is anticipated to continue into 2022 and beyond.
Arizona is the second-largest investor in solar energy behind California, with solar investments totalling more than $14.3 billion. The Grand Canyon State's commitment to solar energy is paying off; today, solar energy supplies over 8.5 percent of the state's total electricity. About 306 solar businesses operate in Arizona, including 57 manufacturers, 144 installers, and 105 businesses classified as other. These companies support more than 7,000 solar jobs.