Who woulda thunk it. Just a few years ago solar power made up less than a percent of California’s electric generation. Now it’s up to more than 5 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Electric Power Monthly.
That’s only including the utility-scale solar power. California also has the largest number of homes with solar and its growing incredibly fast even thought the incentive programs that have helped homeowners put solar panels up are ending. In all, according to California Solar Statistics the state has 246,042 residential installations (as of March 18, 2015), an accumulative 2,365 megawatts of rooftop and small solar. So the actual amount of solar power generating electricity in California is higher.
Across all sectors California now has 9,977 megawatts of solar power, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review . A lot of that, 4,316 megawatts, came online in 2014.
The increase came at a critical time for for California. Drought in the state caused its hydroelectric generation to fall 46 percent compared to its previous five year average and the solar power offset 83 percent of that lost power generation, EIA said.
“California’s utility-scale (1 megawatt or larger) solar plants generated a record 9.9 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity in 2014, an increase of 6.1 million MWh from 2013,” EIA said. “California's utility-scale solar production in 2014 was more than three times the output of the next-highest state, Arizona, and more than all other states combined.”
EIA also observed that California is making significant headway on its 33 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS). “In 2014, the state obtained 22% of its electricity from nonhydropower renewables including wind, solar, and biomass,” EIA stated.
Arizona and Nevada, were second and third in terms of solar energy, according to EIA. “These states in the southwestern United States have some of the best solar resources in the world. However, states with less-favorable solar resources, such as New Jersey and Massachusetts, also are among the top 10 states in total solar generation. All of the top 10 states—with the exception of Florida—have a renewable portfolio standard in place. Most of those policies include a specific target for solar power or customer-sited generation.”Tweet