Solar power: Here's where your state now ranks

Key Points
  • California remains the undisputed champion of solar power, but there are plenty of movers and shakers outside the top five in this year's ranking of solar PV capacity.
  • Growth in solar installations is beginning to migrate to the Midwest and Southeast.
  • South Carolina climbed the most spots on the list in 2017, jumping from No. 27 to No. 18.
Workers install Solar Service solar electric panels on the roof of a home.
Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

If you live in South Carolina, congratulations. Your state vaulted nine spots and cracked into the top 20 markets for solar power capacity in 2017.

The Solar Energy Industries Association on Thursday released its annual review of U.S. solar installations and with it comes a fresh ranking of capacity by state.

The chart below ranks states and Washington, D.C., by their total solar photovoltaic capacity, the most common type of solar power technology. It also shows how much solar PV each state added in 2017 and 2016.

California remains the undisputed champion, with 19.8 gigawatts of solar PV capacity, nearly five times as much as second-ranked North Carolina.

In fact, there was no change in the top five in 2017, but outside these slots there were plenty of movers and shakers.

Florida returned to the top 10 for the first time since 2011, as the Sunshine State added the third most new solar capacity last year. South Carolina saw the eighth biggest jump in capacity and climbed more rungs than any of the 44 markets tracked by the association.

Those moves reflect one of the report's key findings: Growth in solar PV capacity is spreading beyond the major markets to the Southeast and Midwest. Markets outside the top 10 accounted for 21 percent of total installed capacity last year, up from 16 percent in 2016.

Along with Florida and South Carolina, this trend is playing out in states such as Minnesota, Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi — all of which ranked in the top 20 for new solar capacity installations in 2017.

These and other emerging U.S. markets will play a big part in driving future solar PV growth, as the major state markets experience headwinds in the coming years.