The Best States for Solar Power

Which states have the most solar potential? Here’s a roundup of the states with the best natural solar resources, the best solar incentives for homeowners, and the greatest amount of solar power already installed.

| September 16, 2009

Wherever there’s sunlight, you can take advantage of solar energy. However, different places have different solar resources, so the same set of photovoltaic (PV) panels will produce much more electricity in some locations than in others.

Many factors make a difference in how much electricity a PV system can produce at any one time — including constantly changing factors such as time of day, season and weather, but also geographic traits such as climate and latitude. In general, areas closer to the equator have far greater potential for producing solar electricity than those closer to the poles, and areas with consistent sun have greater solar potential then areas that are frequently overcast.

As a whole, the United States has terrific solar resources. For perspective, check out this map of global solar radiation from the United Nations Environment Programme. Now consider that Germany and Spain lead the world in installed PV power. The United States is currently third in installed PV power worldwide, but has far greater natural solar resources than either Spain or Germany.

But while the United States has strong solar potential across the country, some states are definitely sunnier than others. Here’s how you can find out which states have the best natural solar resources, and which have policies that support the development of solar power.

Naturally Sunny States

For the absolute best solar resources in the United States, think southwest.

Take a look at this solar resources map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Based on this map, New Mexico and Arizona are red hot with solar potential, and California, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Colorado also have large areas highly favorable for PV development. PV systems will generate more electricity in these spots — and therefore earn more money — than PV panels in areas with fewer natural solar resources.

11/25/2013 8:11:15 PM

Lance made a good point.


...if you get a company that offers a panel AND production warranty, you do not have to worry about degradation for the during of the warranty, because the company will fix or replace faulty panels, or add more to maintain your guaranteed production.


Lance K. Regan
9/20/2009 9:27:46 PM

When considering PV and sunshine you should also consider a by-product of sunshine, HEAT. High temperatures will degrade the collectors, electronics and battery efficiency of a PV system. A sunny and cooler climate is better for all components.

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