10 States with the Greatest Solar Power Potential

Solar power is a good idea anywhere in the United States, but there are some states that present better opportunities than others. These states have the largest land masses for rural installations, population centers for rooftop photovoltaic installationsaccess to the sun, and many even have above average retail electricity costs. It’s these leading states that are poised to make the biggest difference in solar power availability in America, and they’re likely to benefit the most from it as well. We see the greatest potential for solar power in the following states:

The Top 10 States by Solar Power Potential

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Illinois
  6. Ohio
  7. New York
  8. North Carolina
  9. Michigan
  10. Pennsylvania

Honorable Mentions

  • New Mexico
  • Kansas
  • Arizona

Leading Solar Power Potential Explained

California Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 76 GW, 106,411 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 3,055

Average cost of retail electricity: 18.00 cents per kilowatt hour

As a large state known for its sunshine, it’s no surprise that California is a great state for solar power. This state has multiple major metropolitan areas that are great for rooftop solar installations, as well as deserts and other rural areas that are sunny and well suited to photovoltaics. With an average of more than 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, California certainly has no shortage of sun power. Add in California’s extremely expensive retail electricity rate of 18.00 cents per kilowatt hour, and the Golden State is primed for solar power benefits.

Texas Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 60 GW, 78,717 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,850

Average cost of retail electricity: 11.58 cents per kilowatt hour

Only one state in America is larger than Texas, and although Alaska has good potential for rural photovoltaic installations, it’s tough to beat the size and sunny nature of Texas. Like California, Texas averages nearly 3,000 hours of sunshine annually with multiple metropolitan areas for urban installations, as well as miles and miles of rural locations with the potential for solar farms.

Florida Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 49 GW, 63,987 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,927

Average cost of retail electricity: 11.94 cents per kilowatt hour

Among the sunniest states in America, Florida typically gets just under 3,000 hours of sunshine every year. This state is also among one of the most densely populated in America, which means Florida has plenty of potential to benefit from urban rooftop solar installations.

Georgia Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 25 GW, 31,116 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,986

Average cost of retail electricity: 13.28 cents per kilowatt hour

Though Georgia has a slightly smaller potential in rooftop gigawatts than Illinois or Ohio, it beats out these two states with its higher potential for generating gigawatt hours. Georgia, Florida’s northern neighbor, is simply sunnier than many other states, making it well suited to producing solar power.

Illinois Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 26 GW, 30,086 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,567

Average cost of retail electricity: 12.56 cents per kilowatt hour

Illinois has practically half of the gigawatt potential of sunny Florida, which is no small feat in the Midwestern United States. With more than 2,567 hours of sunshine annually and the potential to generate 30,086 GWh from rooftop solar power installations, Illinois is set to benefit greatly from solar power.

Ohio Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 27 GW, 30,064 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,183

Average cost of retail electricity: 13.28 cents per kilowatt hour

Not typically considered to be one of the largest, most populated, or sunniest of states in America, Ohio has nonetheless found the sweet spot for solar power. With the potential to generate 30,064 GWh just from rooftop installations alone, Ohio’s solar power should be taken seriously.

New York Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 25 GW, 28,780 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,120

Average cost of retail electricity: 18.76 cents per kilowatt hour

New York certainly has no shortage of usable rooftops for solar power: just consider the potential solar power that could be produced by installing photovoltaics on the rooftops of Manhattan alone. This, combined with a solid supply of sunshine and an above average electricity rate make New York primed for solar power.

North Carolina Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 23 GW, 28,420 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,651

Average cost of retail electricity: 11.47 cents per kilowatt hour

Good sunshine and a great potential for generating thousands of gigawatt hours make North Carolina a great state for solar power.

Michigan Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 22 GW, 23,528 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,392

Average cost of retail electricity: 15.30 cents per kilowatt hour

Michigan has one of the nation’s top potentials for solar rooftop gigawatt hour generation, and it also has a retail electricity rate that’s well above the national average.

Pennsylvania Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rooftop solar power: 20 GW, 22,215 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,614

Average cost of retail electricity: 14.21 cents per kilowatt hour

Pennsylvania has excellent sunshine access and up to 20 GW of potential photovoltaics just on rooftops. That, combined with an above average retail electricity rate makes Pennsylvania a good state for solar power potential.

New Mexico Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rural utility scale photovoltaics: 7,087 GW, 16,318,543 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 3,415

Average cost of retail electricity: 13.32 cents per kilowatt hour

Although New Mexico doesn’t have the rooftop solar potential of many other states, its rural solar potential just can’t be ignored. What it lacks in urban development, New Mexico makes up in sunshine with an annual average of 3,415 hours of sunlight. Overall, New Mexico is capable of generating more than 16 million gigawatt hours in solar power.

Kansas Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rural utility scale photovoltaics: 6,960 GW, 14,500,149 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 2,922

Average cost of retail electricity: 12.33 cents per kilowatt hour

Kansas isn’t the largest, sunniest, or most populated state in America, but it does have plenty of wide open spaces that are excellent for soaking up the sun. This state has the incredible potential to generate more than 14.5 million gigawatt hours of solar energy just with rural photovoltaics alone.

Arizona Solar Power Potential

Total estimated technical potential for rural utility scale photovoltaics: 5,147 GW, 11,867,694 GWh

Average annual hours of sunshine: 3,806

Average cost of retail electricity: 12.83 cents per kilowatt hour

With an average of 3,806 annual hours of sunshine every year, no state is sunnier than Arizona. Combined with the potential for 5,147 GW in rural photovoltaic installations, and Arizona could generate nearly 12 million gigawatt hours of solar power.

Further data available from National Renewable Energy LaboratoryCurrent Results, and U.S. Energy Information Administration.