Annual solar energy production in North Carolina jumped 36 percent in 2018, according to the latest government data – firmly placing North Carolina as the No. 2 solar-producing state in the nation.
Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirmed North Carolina’s 36 percent growth, which significantly outpaced other leading solar states. By comparison, California’s annual solar production rose 15 percent; Arizona’s and Nevada’s outputs each grew 10 percent in 2018.
At year-end 2018, EIA reported North Carolina produced 7.2 million megawatt-hours of solar generation – enough to power more than 600,000 homes. Most solar energy produced in North Carolina is owned or purchased by Duke Energy, according to a press release issued by the utility company.
In the Carolinas, more than half of the energy produced comes from carbon-free resources including nuclear, hydropower and solar.
Since 2011, Duke Energy has shut down 30 coal-fired power plants in the Carolinas and will retire five additional coal-fired units in the next six years. Since 2005, the company has also reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 36 percent in the Carolinas, and projects a 53 percent reduction in the Carolinas by 2025.
Duke Energy owns and operates more than 35 solar facilities in North Carolina and has invested more than $1 billion in renewable energy in the state, it said.
In 2018, Duke Energy connected more than 500 megawatts (MW) of new solar capacity. Duke Energy also launched a competitive bidding process for new solar capacity, which seeks to add 680 MW of new solar capacity in 2019. The process is being overseen by an independent administrator. Winning projects are expected to be named this spring.