Top States For Solar Power: Best 11 For Solar Energy Deployment According To OSDI (PHOTOS)
First Posted: 12/02/10 08:10 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:15 PM ET
From The W.P. Carey School Of Business At Arizona State University’s Professor Matt Croucher:
As the movement toward using more sustainable energy continues, many states look to build their renewable energy portfolios. However, too often, the focus is placed only on states that are optimal renewable-energy generation states. That would only be appropriate if the infrastructure were designed for self-sufficiency conditions. Instead, a combination of factors tied to both generation and consumption should be involved in determining the ideal locations for advancing solar power development and infrastructure across the nation.
New research by Professor Matt Croucher from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, called the Optimal Deployment of Solar Index (OSDI), provides a ranking of ideal states for solar power based on several different considerations.
Ideal states should have: a relatively high level of solar insolation (ability to generate a significant amount of solar energy), a fairly large amount of economic activity resulting from solar energy being deployed, a reasonably low cost of energy installation, higher than average current prices for electricity, and the potential for electricity production through solar power that would offset large amounts of carbon emissions.
Interestingly, the states that ranked highly varied in geography, size, population, and climate. Surprisingly, some of the states one might quickly point to as ideal locations for solar power are noticeably absent from the top (e.g. California and Utah – tied at No. 30, Nevada – No. 21, and Florida – No. 15), when focusing on self-sufficiency conditions.
The research also explains that states – save Hawaii or Alaska – don’t exist in isolation, and power grids are typically not built strictly with state boundaries in mind. So, there could be a great opportunity for states that generate solar power more effectively and at greater rates to distribute power both within their own borders and to nearby states that are viable targets for efficient consumption.
With the highest average cost of electricity and relatively high carbon emissions, Hawaii (No. 1) ranks at the top because solar deployment would be so beneficial under those conditions. Being the state closest to the equator and all the sunny days help, too.
In large part, New Mexico’s (No. 2) appeal for solar deployment is the rate of job creation that would result from solar power, as well as the fact that it is the second best in the nation in terms of “solar insolation.”
Above-average costs of electricity, above-average carbon emissions due to production of electrical power, and a top five solar insolation ranking earn Colorado (No. 3) a top spot in the Optimum Solar Deployment Index (OSDI).
Despite having relatively low electricity prices, Missouri (No. 4) is actually the sixth best state based on cost-per-watt for installing solar power. It also presents better-than-average opportunities to create jobs from solar power infrastructure, making it an ideal candidate for solar deployment.
Rated as the third lowest cost-per-watt to install solar power on the OSDI and among the leaders in solar insolation, Georgia (No. 5) rounds out the top five best solar deployment states.
Perhaps surprising to some, Texas (No. 6) is right about average in terms of carbon emissions resulting from production of electricity. Solar deployment is appealing given the state’s better-than-average cost of deployment and the fact that it has the 13th highest average price of electricity.
Current electricity prices and carbon emissions are below average and don’t support the arguments for solar deployment in Arkansas (No. 7) anywhere near as much as the potential for green jobs. Among the top 10 for impact in terms of job creation, Arkansas’ appeal is less about geography and more about economics.
Tied with neighboring Mississippi, there would be less benefit as far as job creation compared to its western cousin. But, the impact on carbon-emission reduction in Alabama (No. 8-tied) would be greater.
Sharing a border, being at virtually identical latitude, and both having about the same 50,000-square-mile area, Mississippi (No. 8-tied) and its eastern neighbor are similar in solar insolation. But, the magnolia state has higher electricity costs and significantly more opportunity for job creation.
Epitomizing a perfect combination of optimal generation and optimal consumption, Oklahoma (No. 10-tied) is ranked 21st among the 50 states on both lists, helping push it into the top 10 overall solar deployments ranking.
A bit of a shock considering its balmy weather, but Wisconsin (No. 10-tied) is actually among the top 10 best states for solar deployment. This is primarily because it is fourth best on the list of optimal consumption states – so despite being in the bottom half in terms of generation states, it has much more optimal economic and social conditions for implementing solar power infrastructure.