February 19, 2017

Reference: Fast Facts: “California Has Nearly Half of the Nation’s Solar Electricity Generating Capacity”

From the Energy Information Administration:

The United States has slightly more than 20,000 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity, which includes utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal installations, as well as distributed generation solar PV systems, also known as rooftop solar.


In 2014, California became the first state to generate at least 5% of its electricity from utility-scale solar plants (i.e., generators with at least one MW of capacity). Utility-scale solar makes up more than two-thirds of California’s solar capacity, with utility-scale solar PV making up 55% and solar thermal systems such as concentrating solar making up another 13%. Distributed generation solar PV systems, often installed on rooftops of residential and commercial buildings, account for the remaining 32%.


For both utility-scale solar PV and solar thermal, California has more capacity than the rest of the country combined, with 52% and 73% of the nation’s total, respectively. All but 18 states have some utility-scale solar PV capacity, but only three states (California, Arizona, and Nevada) have utility-scale solar thermal resources, as these systems often require large, contiguous tracts of land in arid environments.

All but three states (Alaska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) have at least one megawatt of distributed generation solar PV capacity. EIA recently added estimates of distributed solar PV capacity and generation to tables in the Electric Power Monthly.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.