Florida positioning itself as the Southeast’s solar leader

by | Jun 24, 2021

 

Florida is slated to become the region’s leader in solar energy by 2024, according to a new report from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE).

In its fourth annual report, SACE projected that the Sunshine State will lead the Southeast for solar on its electric grid by 2024. The study predicted that Florida will have nearly 10,000 megawatts of solar on the grid. The next closest is estimated to be Georgia, with about 5,860 megawatts, while North Carolina will be third with about 5,250 megawatts. South Carolina will be fourth, SACE projects, with about 3,179 megawatts, followed by South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. According to the report, Virginia is not considered a Southeast state.

North Carolina narrowly edged out Florida for most installed solar capacity in the Southeast in 2020, boasting 3,840 megawatts on its grid compared to Florida’s 3,810 megawatts. Likewise, Georgia netted 2,239 megawatts and South Carolina reported 1,926 megawatts in 2020.

In an online presentation of the report on Wednesday, SACE Solar Director Bryan Jacob noted that Florida had eclipsed North Carolina to lead the Southeast by the end of the first quarter of this year, and was positioning itself to lead the region in the coming years.

“Florida’s a bigger state, bigger population, bigger utilities,” Jacob said. “They were late to the game, but they have been coming on strong lately once the economics shifted to where solar’s the least-cost resource, that’s what we would attribute Florida overtaking North Carolina to.”

Before being surpassed by Florida earlier this year, North Carolina had been the Southeast leader in installed solar capacity up to and including 2020.

“North Carolina deserves credit for jump-starting the Southeast with favorable decisions,” Jacob added. “It’s the only state in the Southeast that has a Renewable Portfolio Standard. That’s what compelled their leadership to begin with.”

Leading the way in the Southeast’s solar energy boom is Charlotte-based Duke Energy, boasting 5,159 megawatts — about 40 percent of the solar capacity in the region — at its subsidiaries in North Carolina and Florida. Duke Energy is expected to hold a narrow lead going into 2024 as Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Georgia Power each surpass Duke Progress, which has earned the top slot on the large utility leaderboard for all four “Solar in the Southeast” annual reports.

Duke Progress, one of the largest electric power holding companies headquartered in Raleigh, 2,570 megawatts online at the end of last year. Following closely was FPL with 2,230 megawatts and Georgia Power with 1,719 megawatts. Jacob forecasts that in 2024 FPL will overtake the top spot with 4,670 megawatts, followed by Georgia Power (4,480 megawatts) and Duke Progress (3,330 megawatts).

To view the report, click here.

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