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One state is installing more solar panels than any other — what this means for the future of its power grid

Although Florida had slipped behind in total solar panel installation compared to states like California and Texas, it has recently surged as the nationwide leader.

The aptly named Sunshine State added 2,499 megawatts of solar electricity capacity during the first six months of 2023. Comparatively, California only added 1,648 megawatts and Texas 1,292 megawatts within the timeframe. 2023 marks the first time Florida has taken the top place in the race for solar capacity.

Considering that a one-megawatt plant might power between 400 and 900 homes in a year (or somewhat less because solar energy production is intermittent), Florida’s boost in generation capacity could have the potential to power somewhere around one million more homes.

Canary Media reported that two reasons for this bump in production included clean energy incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act and the stabilization of supply chains following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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However, the state remains dependent on dirty energy for the majority of its electricity needs, according to the news outlet. Only 6% of the total energy in the state comes from solar. The state lacks a renewable portfolio standard — which would require a utility to generate a certain amount of energy from renewable sources like wind and solar.

It also lacks power-purchasing agreements that would allow homeowners to purchase energy from third-party panels installed on their roofs via a solar lease agreement.

As a result of the policies, most of the solar added in Florida came from utilities (86%) rather than household solar arrays. However, the state still allows net metering, allowing homeowners to sell energy generated by home solar panels back to the grid.

Florida’s growth in solar energy suggests a big boom for renewable energy in the American market. The entire country’s solar capacity is expected to grow by 32 gigawatts (32,000 megawatts) this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. This was a 52% increase over last year.

The increase in solar capacity will improve the country’s renewable portfolio and keep dirty air pollution from sources like coal and oil out of the air.

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