According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power accounted for 2.4 percent of the nation’s electricity demand in 2018.
Combining both utility scale and non-utility scale, the total solar industry grew 25 percent in 2018.
California continues to be the solar power leader. The state increased its 2017 levels by 15 percent. It is now capable of supplying 14.1 percent of its electricity needs with solar power. Nevada was next with 12.4 percent, Hawaii at 11.8 percent, Arizona at 8.7 percent, and Utah at 7.6 percent.
While not making the top 5, there were quite a few states in New England that made noticeable gains in solar capacity. Also, quite a few states in the south experienced triple digit percentage increases in the past year or so. In fact, 12 states in total had at least 100 percent growth increases.
Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, there seems to be apparent resistance in states with stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard Policies. These are policies which basically say how much renewable energy a state must install by the end of a certain time period. Instead, states that are sunnier tend to be installing solar voluntarily at a quicker pace.
This can be seen as market forces being more powerful than political ones. It’s also a positive sign that the other states not going solar as quickly due to these mandates soon will regardless of said mandates. The bottom line is that the tipping point has been passed in which solar power is now too cheap to ignore.
Now it must be addressed that many will scoff at the idea of 2 percent being significant at all.
They would be missing the point.
The larger picture is that, while solar does only satisfy 2.4 percent of the nation’s electricity needs, the rate at which it is expanding is impressive and is what truly matters. In fact, solar power now delivers 100 times the amount of electricity it did 10 years ago. How about that for growth!
As utility-scale solar installations continue to take place, we will see solar accounting for a good percentage of total electricity demand in the not too distant future.