RALEIGH – North Carolina ranks fourth in the nation for solar power generation, a new analysis finds. Plus sales of electric vehicles and charging port installations in the state are surging.

According to the report, Renewables on the Rise, North Carolina has experienced a 56-fold increase in the amount of electricity produced from solar power generation since 2012.

The ranking is similar to other reports on solar power. The state rose to fourth from eighth in 2021, for example, in a recent Solar Energy Industries Association breakdown. 

NCPIRG Education Fund graphic

“It’s encouraging to see how far North Carolina has come in making solar energy a reality over the past decade,” said Katie Craig, state director with NCPIRG Education Fund, in a statement. “North Carolinians can look forward to a cleaner, healthier future, thanks to our state’s leadership in solar power.”

According to the report, the state ranks fourth in the nation for solar power generation for 2021 and fourth in the nation for the growth of solar power generation between 2012 and 2021.

While solar panel installer Pink Energy shut down operations earlier this year, after twice laying off hundreds of workers, other solar energy companies are opening operations in the state.

And there are also a number of new local efforts that may be driving further growth of the solar industry in North Carolina, including Solarize the Triangle, a community-based group purchasing campaign designed to reduce the cost of solar energy systems.

“We need engagement across all levels of government—especially through local action—along with collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to address climate change,” said TJ Cawley, Mayor of Morrisville, in a statement. “I am committed to supporting changing our energy system here in our community to put us on the path to a livable climate and healthier future.”

Report: North Carolina ranks No. 3 in solar, emerging as renewable energy leader

Not just solar; EVs increasing in NC, too

An online dashboard released alongside the new report also notes that electric vehicle usage is also on the rise in North Carolina. The state ranked 11th overall for the number of ports in 2021 and 16th for the number of electric vehicles sold. The number of EVS rose to more than 12,000 in 2021 from some 1,000 in 2012.

North Carolina ranked 13th among all U.S. states analyzed for the growth rate of the number of electric vehicle charging ports between 2012 and 2021.

Since 2012, the state has experienced a 912% increase in electric vehicle charging ports installed, the report says.

That may increase, too, as VinFast builds out its planned electric vehicle assembly plant in Chatham County, and as the electric vehicle market matures nationally.  The recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act also includes provisions that make purchasing an electric vehicle, whether new or used, a bit more cost-effective for consumers, through tax credits, some of which are effective now and some that will take effect in 2023.  Still, not all electric vehicles will be covered.

“Millions of Americans and North Carolinians are already reaping the benefits of the dramatic clean energy progress we’ve made so far,” Craig said in the statement. “As our state sets it’s plan to move toward a cleaner energy future, it’s crucial that we use this momentum and opportunity to lean in on clean energy and turbocharge our transformation.”

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