Updated February 23, 2024
Florida – Known for its abundant sunshine, FL is now shining brighter than ever in the solar energy arena. In the first half of 2023, Florida has surged ahead of all other U.S. states in terms of solar energy installations, setting the stage to outperform solar giants California and Texas for solar energy capacity expansion this year.
These exciting findings come from a recent Solar Market Insight report, jointly released by energy analytics firm Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Here's a glimpse of the remarkable progress:
- Florida added a whopping 2,499 megawatts (MW) of solar-generation capacity in the first six months of 2023, far surpassing California's 1,648 MW and Texas's 1,292 MW additions.
- Florida's six-month increase alone surpasses its previous yearly solar capacity additions, a significant milestone.
This surge contributes to a record-breaking projection of 32 gigawatts (GW) of new solar capacity for the entire United States in 2023. This marks a remarkable 52% increase over 2022 and sets a new single-year record for the nation.
The future looks even brighter, with Wood Mackenzie forecasting that total operating solar capacity in the U.S. will rise from 153 GW today to an impressive 375 GW by 2028.
In June, the U.S. had a total electricity generation capacity of 1,171 GW from all sources, with 318 GW coming from renewable sources. Florida, the nation's third most populous state, contributed 69 GW of generating capacity, with 8.6 GW coming from renewable sources.
The report attributes this year's solar energy surge to a combination of factors, including the easing of COVID-19-related supply chain challenges and changes in restrictive trade policies that had slowed growth in 2022. Incentives introduced as part of the Inflation Reduction Act have also played a pivotal role.
Anticipated domestic manufacturing investments are expected to further improve supply conditions in the coming years, with projections suggesting that U.S. solar module manufacturing output will increase tenfold by 2026.
The substantial growth in Florida's solar generation capacity during the first half of the year can be largely credited to utility-scale expansion. Out of the 2,499 MW added to the grid, utilities were responsible for installing 2,159 MW.
Florida Power & Light led the way with 1,769 MW of the increased capacity, closely followed by Duke Energy, which added 389 MW.
Notably, residential solar capacity in Florida is also on the rise, with homeowners contributing 332 MW of solar capacity during the first half of the year, making it the second-largest residential solar increase in the U.S.
Data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows a significant uptick in rooftop solar installations by Florida residents over the past two years, with the number of customers participating in net metering arrangements with utilities doubling between June 2021 and June 2023.
In June 2021, Florida Power & Light had 27,082 rooftop solar customers selling excess electricity back to the grid, compared to Duke Energy's 41,193. Fast forward to two years later, FPL had 80,552 net metering customers compared to Duke's 75,264.
FPL's net metering customers sold back 38,814 megawatt hours of electricity in June 2023, marking a significant 166% increase compared to June 2021.
While FPL has been actively expanding its utility-scale solar energy capacity and had previously considered adjusting buy-back rates for excess power, this measure was ultimately vetoed by Governor Ron DeSantis to alleviate financial burdens on Floridians during a period of rising prices.
FPL spokeswoman Florencia Olivera emphasized their commitment to delivering low-cost, reliable energy to customers, with FPL's solar energy centers saving customers $375 million in avoided fuel costs in 2022 amid global spikes in natural gas prices.
Nationally, the number of net metering customers has increased by 42.5%, rising from 2.78 million to 3.96 million, with megawatt hours sold back to the grid increasing by 27.9%, from 154,451 MWh to 197,535 MWh, between June 2021 and June 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Florida's ascent in solar energy is not just a remarkable achievement for the state but also a beacon of hope for the entire nation as we move towards a greener, more sustainable future. The Sunshine State is living up to its name and leading the way in the solar revolution.
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