California hits 5% solar, offsets hydro losses due to drought


California has become the first state in the U.S. to rely on solar energy for more than 5% of its electricity, the federal government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported yesterday.

According to EIA, photovoltaic and concentrating solar power plants greater than 1 MW in capacity generated a record 9.9 million MWh in 2014, boosting solar production to more than 5% of California’s wholesale electric generation, compared to just 1.9% in 2013.

The report does not include most rooftop arrays in the state or other distributed solar projects less than 1 MW, which totaled approximately 2.3 GW at the end of 2014, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

EIA noted that California’s big rise in solar production came in the same year that severe drought conditions depleted the state’s hydroelectric reservoirs and caused hydropower generation to drop 46% compared to the previous five-year average.

Popular content

“Although solar is only available at certain times of the day, the annual increase in California's solar generation in 2014 offset 83% of the decrease in hydroelectric generation,” according to EIA.

While the Golden State leads the U.S. in solar, the Silver State, Nevada, is tied for second with Arizona at 2.8%. Solar generation remains below 1% of grid power nationwide.

However, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week reported that solar power capacity on the wholesale transmission grid for the first time went over 1% of total installed capacity, with nearly 12 GW. FERC’s data also does not include distributed solar installations that provide on-site power.

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact:


Related content

Elsewhere on pv magazine...

Leave a Reply

Please be mindful of our community standards.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.

Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.

You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.

Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.