Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar

by Zachary Shahan.

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

–> See how much money solar power could save you!

There are a lot of ways to evaluate the attractiveness of a place for renewable energy or solar energy investment, and to evaluate the best solar states. Of course, it depends on what factors and assumptions you take into account, as well as what segment of the market you are actually evaluating.

One of the leading evaluators of such markets is Ernst & Young (EY). The “professional services firm” recently released its most up-to-date renewable energy attractiveness indices for the US, including a solar energy index. The report includes solar market data for 2012 as well as a well-researched ranking of states by their solar energy investment attractiveness. The overall summary is clear, as we have been writing for months here on CostofSolar.com: the US solar market is booming.

US Solar Market Booming

“In 2012 the US installed 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 1,300 MW coming in Q4 alone, surpassing both annual and quarterly records. Even with falling costs the dollar value of the market size of the US solar industry grew 34% in 2012,” EY writes. “The cumulative total of solar PV in the US is now at 7,221 MW, with cumulative PV installations exceeding 300,000 individual units.”

A new solar panel installation is now occurring every 4 minutes in the US, according to an analysis from GTM Research.

Solar Leasing Is Hot

As I’ve reported a few times previously, solar leasing is hot. This is partly due to the fact that residential solar power has become quite cheap, and partly due to the fact that people are attracted to $0 down purchasing options, especially when the products (i.e., solar panels) save them money from Day 1. This makes going solar a no-brainer (even more than it already is).

EY writes: “Third-party ownership or leasing of rooftop solar PV systems in the US accounted for more than 50% of the residential and commercial market in 2012. Average residential system prices dropped nearly 20% between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012, and industry experts expect this segment of the market to surge as third-party financing options spread throughout the country.”

US Southwest Is Hot

The leading states are largely in the Southwest, thanks in part to its tremendous solar energy potential, but there are some outliers.

“The top five states for solar electric capacity installed in 2012 were California (becoming the first state to install over 1,000 MW in a single year), Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and North Carolina, while the leaders in cumulative solar capacity installed through 2012 were California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Colorado.”

The 10 most attractive states for solar energy investment, according to EY, are now:

Best Solar States For Return On Investment (ROI)

Overall, I find the EY report very useful, as it includes fairly comprehensive policy and market analyses, and even does so for the top solar states.

However, as people who have read me for awhile know, I’m a big fan of relative rankings… of which there are very few. Looking at absolute rankings such as total solar power capacity, you miss who is leading the way on a per capita or per GDP basis. And you miss which states offer the best return on investment for a single residential solar power system.

If you’re curious about the latter, you may have noticed that we’ve already shared a great ranking on that, which changed the above order a bit to come up with this top 10 ranking:

  1. Hawaii — 24% IRR
  2. DC (if you want to include it) — 20% IRR
  3. New York — 17% IRR
  4. Connecticut — 16% IRR
  5. Colorado — 15% IRR
  6. Massachusetts — 15% IRR
  7. New Mexico — 13% IRR
  8. California — 12% IRR
  9. South Carolina – 12% IRR
  10. Delaware – 12% IRR
Best Solar States Per Capita

At the end of 2012, the top solar states for installed solar power per capita ranking shuffles the top solar states around yet again:

top-solar-states-per-capita-total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

top-solar-power-states-per-capita-total-solar

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

Best Solar States… Depends On Your Aims

In the end, I think all of this data is quite interesting. And it offers useful lessons of different types. The EY ranking is certainly useful to investors and major companies who want to figure out the policies and market of one or more states in order to invest in solar projects for the best return on investment (ROI). It also helps show how large states and even countries can better promote solar power.

The solar ROI study briefly mentioned after that is actually useful for the same thing (through slightly different data and research). But it’s also useful for individual homeowners or small businesses who are considering the switch to solar.

And the per capita rankings show us who the true state leaders are, showing us which states’ solar or electricity policies would be most worth emulating.

But, really, for our main audience (the common Joe), there’s simply one thing to do: find out how much solar power could save you, get connected to the best installer for your money in your region, and go solar so that you can start savings tens of thousands of dollars off your electricity bills.

The longer you wait to make the switch, the more money you are throwing away on dirty power from a monopolistic utility company. And the fact is, you can get an estimate of how much you’d save in less time than it takes to watch another cat video or Gangnam Style.

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This article, Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy

Washington, DC government agencies to run 100% renewable energy | 22/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

Until now, U.S. government buildings in Washington, D.C. have had 50% of their electrical power needs met with wind-turbine powered electricity supplied by Washington Gas Energy Services CleanSteps® WindPower. That percentage increased recently to 100% as part of the government’s renewable energy target and building efficiency improvement plan.

http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/wind.html
The United States has tremendous wind resources both offshore and on land. In 2012, the total installed wind capacity in the United States reached 50,000 MW. That’s enough to power more than 12 million homes annually, and it represents an 18-fold increase in capacity since 2000. — photo courtesy of U.S. DoE

Using 100 percent wind power for electricity equates to the Washington, D.C. government avoiding the consumption of 32,825,000 gallons of gasoline or taking 61,000 cars off the road for a year. The world’s fastest-growing energy resource, wind power displaces conventional power, reduces carbon dioxide and helps eliminate air pollution.

“Going green helps foster economic growth and creates modern and vibrant communities across the District of Columbia,” said Brian J. Hanlon, Director, Department of General Services.

“Our goals are to become more energy efficient and reduce our carbon emissions, and our strategic partnership with WGES is playing a role in helping us achieve these objectives.” – WGES press release

Even prior to this announcement, Washington, D.C. held the record among U.S. cities for the highest total renewable energy use at over one billion kilowatt hours per year – or, 11.4% of it’s total electricity consumption.

To read a complete breakdown of U.S. cities and their renewable energy use in 2012, visit this EPA Green Power Community Challenge Rankings page.

“We have stated our mission for Washington, D.C. to be the cleanest, greenest city in the nation, which includes the use of renewable energy for our power sources.

We’re proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized Washington, D.C. as the leading Green Power Community for our commitment to purchase green power.” — Keith Anderson, Director, District Department of the Environment

In his National Geographic NewsWatch piece, Sam Brooks, Associate Director of the Washington, D.C. Department of General Services and head of its Energy Division said, “conservative estimates indicate a long-term purchase of regional wind power could save more than $100 million over 20 years.”

What could be better than breathing clean air while saving 100 million dollars?

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NOTES:

  1. The U.S. Department of Energy funds R&D to develop wind energy. Learn about the DOE Wind Program, how to use wind energy and get financial incentives, and access wind energy information.
  2. In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, businesses, organizations, government entities, institutions and individual residents can purchase their electricity and natural gas supply from retail energy providers. Customers in Virginia may purchase natural gas and customers in Delaware may purchase electricity from retail energy providers.
  3. To learn more about WGES and its CleanSteps® products, visit www.wges.com or call 1-888-884-WGES (9437).