Solar Number One


Solar reached one percent share of the nation’s generation in November

Today in Fortnightly

From the Energy Department data released last week, around 3.8 billion megawatt-hours of electricity were generated last year through November. All but three-tenths of a percent was utility-scale. The small remainder was produced by commercial and residential distributed generators using solar.

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The electricity produced by distributed generators was divided almost down the middle between commercial and residential solar. So about one and a half tenths was by commercial solar, and one and a half tenths was by residential solar.

The electricity produced by utility-scale solar had a share of all electricity generation of seven tenths of a percent. So when you add utility solar, commercial solar and residential solar, solar reached one percent.

Breaking down the one percent (the solar share), 68 percent of that was utility-scale. On the distributed generator side, 16 percent was commercial solar, and 15 percent was residential solar. 

Residential solar, the most visible type of solar to the public, produced an average of 691 megawatt-hours per hour, in 2015 through November. Half of this was in one state, California. Residential solar in the golden state produced an average of 344 megawatt-hours per hour.

Since half of residential solar was in California, half was in the other 49 states. About half of that half was in four other states: Arizona, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York. 

Arizona residential solar produced an average of 70 megawatt-hours per hour. In Hawaii, residential solar produced 43 megawatt-hours per hour, in New Jersey, 31 megawatt-hours per hour, and in New York, 29 megawatt-hours per hour.

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Beyond the five leading states in residential solar (California, Arizona, Hawaii, New Jersey and New York), that account for three-quarters of the national total, the next states are Massachusetts and Louisiana. In sixth and seventh place, these two states produce 19 and 17 megawatt-hours per hour with residential solar. 

Solar is growing rapidly, particularly utility-scale solar, albeit from an extremely small base. Public Utilities Fortnightly will follow this growth with thought-provoking articles by the best thinkers who will often vigorously disagree about solar regulation and policies.


Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly
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