How fast is solar energy growing?

America is getting nearly 12 times more energy from the sun than we did a decade ago. The United States gets more emission-free energy from the sun than ever before.

Clean energy

Tim O'Connor | Used by permission

Enough sunshine falls on the United States to power our nation many times over. Over the past decade, rapidly improving technology and lower costs have made it easier and cheaper for us to harness that abundant solar energy to power our lives.  

America produced enough solar energy to power 19 million homes in 2022. That’s nearly 12 times as much solar energy as the nation produced in 2013. That’s according to data provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and compiled in Renewables on the Rise

What are the top 10 states for solar energy? 

The states with the most solar solar generation in 2022 were:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. North Carolina
  5. Arizona
  6. Nevada
  7. Georgia
  8. New York
  9. Virginia
  10. Massachusetts

To learn more about how much solar these states produce, where other states rank, and what the status of other clean energy technologies that will support America’s transition to 100% renewable energy, check out the Renewables on the Rise Dashboard, an interactive tool that pulls data for numerous government sources into one easy-to-use resource.

Why is solar energy growing?

Over the past decade, three main factors have driven the the progress we’ve seen in our ability to harness the sun’s rays for energy production. They are:

  • Technological innovation. Solar energy technology has rapidly improved in recent decades. For example, in 2019, the median new residential solar panel was 37 percent more efficient than one installed in 2010. 
  • Falling costs. At the same time that the technology got more efficient, it also got cheaper. The cost of utility-scale solar fell by 90 percent from 2009 to 2020.
  • Supportive policies. Policies like California’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative, and net metering policies that compensate solar owners fairly for the energy they provide to the grid have helped solar energy grow.

How can we keep solar energy growing? 

Although solar energy is growing, the United States has only begun to tap its massive solar energy potential. The sooner we tap that potential the better it will be for our health and our environment. 

One of the best places to put solar panels is on the roofs of warehouses, big box stores, over parking lots. Through our Solar on Warehouses campaign, Environment America and our national network is encouraging the owners of large warehouses, such those owned and operated by shipping giant FedEx, to set ambitious goals to install solar panels on their rooftops. 

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Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America's energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate. 

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