N.C. jumps to second place for solar energy

North Carolina ranks second in the U.S. for solar energy capacity after a huge number of installations last year, an industry report says.
The Solar Energy Industries Association says the state had 2,295 megawatts of solar capacity at mid-year. Half that was installed in 2015, when solar developers raced to build projects before state tax credits for 35 percent of their cost expired at year’s end.
North Carolina passed Arizona for second place overall. Both trail far behind California, which has nearly 14,000 megawatts of solar capacity and installed 3,200 megawatts last year alone.
Home rooftop solar in the U.S. rose 29 percent in the second quarter, compared to a year earlier, but utility-scale solar farms are driving the industry’s growth nationwide, SEIA reported. That’s also true in North Carolina, which has dozens of farms.
Congress last year extended 30 percent federal tax credits for solar projects, a powerful boost to the industry, through 2019. The credits will be gradually reduced over the following three years. Prices for solar installations of all types also continued to drop.
Solar energy accounted for more than one-quarter of all new U.S. electric generating capacity brought online in the first half of 2016, SEIA says.
The federal government projects that renewable energy, which includes solar, wind and hydroelectric plants, will generate 23 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2025 compared to 13 percent in 2015.