- The U.S. had just over 20,000 MW of solar capacity at the end of November 2015, making up about 1.9% of total electricity generating capacity nationwide, according to new numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
- California made up 9,976 MW of the total, with 52% of the nation's utility-scale solar capacity. Distributed solar made up 32% of California's solar capacity. California has more thermal and utility-scale solar capacity than the rest of the U.S. combined.
- Nationwide, utility-scale solar made up 60% of solar capacity, but each state's mix varied greatly. For example, North Carolina's 1,070 MW of utility-scale solar composes 94% of its total installed capacity while distributed solar makes up 87% of New York's total installed solar and 89% of Hawaii's total installations.
California leadership position in the U.S. solar market is underpinned by the EIA's latest numbers.
In 2014, California became the first state to get at least 5% of its electricity from utility-scale solar, with PV providing 55%, concentrating solar power (CSP) providing 13%, and the 32% balance coming from distributed solar. Arizona and New Jersey are a distant second and third to California's lead, with 2,103 MW and 1,235 MW respectively.
Utility-scale solar, defined as 1 MW installations or more, composed the biggest segment of the nation's solar market. The EIA numbers show 32 states have utility-scale solar PV capacity, but only California, Arizona, and Nevada have CSP installations because they require hot dry sun and large tracts of land.
Solar's variability means that the 1.9% of installed solar capacity translates to only 0.6% of total electricity generation, with 0.4% coming from utility-scale solar and only 0.2% from distributed solar, according to the EIA.
A joint report from Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research underscored EIA's findings. Utility-scale solar made up 42% of the 1,361 MW of capacity installed in the third quarter of 2015, with a 18.7 GW pipeline by the end of the quarter. At least 10 GW are expected to go online in 2016.