These 10 States are Leading
by Rebecca Harrington and Skye Gould
There were only 1,000 megawatts of solar power in the entire world in 1999.
Just the state of Arizona has more than that today.
Some states are adopting solar energy with much more gusto than others. You may already have some assumptions about which states those might be (cough, cough, California).
The entire US still only gets 0.65% of its electricity from solar, and 13% of the nation's electricity came from renewable sources overall in 2015.
But we are making progress. California has long been leading the pack, and continues to do so. And now other states are starting to catch up.
Texas came in at No. 7 on the list, somewhat surprising since it's traditionally produced so much oil. But these days the sunny state is installing huge solar farms, too.
The Lone Star State has a ton of land to put acres of solar panels on, after all. Everything actually can be bigger in Texas, including renewables. New Jersey, meanwhile, may not have a lot of open land, but it does have a half billion dollar program that kicked off in 2013 and is designed to expand the state's solar capacity.
Every state on this list has adopted a renewable energy standard -- a goal to get a certain percentage or amount of its energy from clean sources by a particular year. For example, California plans to get half of its energy from renewables by 2030; Colorado wants to get 30% by 2020.
This is how much energy each state now generates from solar energy, according to a report from the home improvement firm Modernize that analyzed US Department of Energy data.
How much energy do these solar panels actually generate? Well, the national average, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, is that every megawatt of solar energy can typically power 164 homes.
That means that California's 3,700 MW could power nearly 607,000 homes, and New York's 286 MW could power almost 47,000.
It's not that much compared to how much the US still relies on natural gas and coal for electricity (they are responsible for 27% and 39%, respectively).
But there were only 1,000 megawatts of solar power in the entire world in 1999. Just the state of Arizona has more than that today. Imagine how much more we'll have in the next few decades.
It's progress, and these 10 states are leading the way.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs