Solar Power in Georgia 2018 – How Are We Doing?
Georgia Cracks the Top 10 for Solar Capacity
You’ve heard about the solar tariffs. You’ve heard about per-watt solar prices dropping (down 53% in the last 5 years). You’ve learned about the benefits of solar and how solar power can help in a hurricane. But how is solar power really doing in Georgia (compared to the rest of the country) in 2018?
Here’s the short answer: Solar power in Georgia is booming. In fact, it’s accelerating.
In 2017, we were ranked #22 by SEIA in the country for installed solar capacity. In 2018, Georgia leapfrogged all the way to #10, with 1553 Megawatts (MW) of installed solar.
Cracking the top ten is great, but it’s only the beginning. Projections show the Peach State continuing to climb the rankings in the coming years.
Solar power also now accounts for 0.75% of Georgia’s electricity generation. To put that in perspective, the whole country now gets 2% of its electricity from solar, a huge increase from the 0.1% of electricity production we were getting from solar in 2010.
That means in just eight years, solar has increased its share of electricity generation by 2000% nationwide. As you can see in the screenshot below, the bulk of that 2% has come in California, not surprisingly.
But as more homes, farms, businesses, and utilities in Georgia install solar, we can expect to pass 1% soon. We won’t catch California, ever, but we can pass several other states.
Solar is also a job-creating workhorse. In Georgia as of 2018, solar power now employs over 4300 people at more than 100 installation companies and 45 manufacturers. Nationwide, it’s sustaining over 250,000 jobs.
According to the SEIA, the US now has 56 Gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, which is enough to power 10.7 million homes. In each of the last three years, solar power has accounted for over 30% of new electricity generation – either first or second place every year.
And more states are starting to get in on the action.
Solar Power Prices – Georgia, US, and the World
Prices for solar power in the United States persist in being higher than in other parts of the world. This is mainly due to higher labor costs, but also to more regulations and permitting requirements.
But within the US, Georgia ranks as one of the lowest priced states for solar, coming in under $2.89 per watt. High priced states like Wisconsin and Minnesota exceed $3.50 per watt, and even solar-loving California is over $3.40.
But what about those tariffs?
The solar tariff skirmishes are causing some uncertainty and fluctuation in the prices of solar panels. But so far, this is mainly affecting large-scale utility solar projects because any per-panel price shift adds up to a lot when you’re installing thousands of panels.
Residences, farms, and small businesses that want to save money though solar energy are largely unaffected by the tariffs because they’re only installing a few dozen panels in most cases.
What About Coastal Solar?
One of the areas that distinguishes Coastal Solar from the other 99 installers in Georgia is our expertise in agricultural solar power.
We’ve worked with dozens of poultry and other farms to slash their monthly power expenses through solar power. One way we’ve done this is by helping them apply for US Department of Agriculture REAP grants.
These grants give rural businesses and farms the chance to install solar panels at even lower costs, covering up to 25% of the total costs. There is an upper limit, because the REAP was created to help normal hard-working farmers, not huge corporations. And applying for it takes some effort.
But that’s where Coastal Solar’s experience makes such an impact.
So far, we’ve won successful REAP grants for over 90% of the applications we’ve helped our customers write — amounting to more than $2 million. Our track record is by far the best among any solar power installer, most of whom don’t even offer this service.
Solar Power in 2019 and Beyond
The biggest solar energy issue of the next few years won’t be the tariffs. It will be the impending end of the 30% solar investment tax credit (ITC).
The details of this huge solar tax credit, how it works, and when it ends are complicated. You can get more clarity on the ITC in this article.
But here’s what you can expect the next few years:
Solar power in Georgia will continue to make gains in its share of total electricity output. Prices should stay relatively constant (and low) for the foreseeable future. And installers like Coastal Solar will continue creating jobs and offering exceptional service – including on specialty programs like the REAP grant for farms and rural businesses.