While not commonly thought of as a “Sun Belt” state, parts of North Carolina, especially the southernmost regions, do share this distinction with Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other warm, dry states. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), North Carolina’s capital of Raleigh receives over 4.5 hours of sunlight each day, on average, for nine of the 12 months of the year.
With that amount of sunlight, the solar industry found a welcoming spot in the Tar Heel State. After years of rapid expansion, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that North Carolina generates 5.81% of its electricity through solar power (report from 2019).
Home to many large-scale installations such as the 52 megawatt (MW) Capital Partners Solar Project, North Carolina has fields of solar panels and is a leader in “green” energy.
Solar Industry Trends in North Carolina
North Carolina is home to over 6400 megawatts of installed PV equipment. Many large installations can be found statewide, maintained by utilities including Duke Energy and Dominion Energy.
With multiple tax credits and grants, from both the state and federal level, North Carolina’s solar industry grew and led to the rapid expansion of solar use. SEIA projects this trend to continue over the next few years, estimating another 3,000 to 4,000 MW of solar installations are to be developed.
While tax incentives were a catalysis from growth, tax credits that were as high as 30% in 2019 can decline to 10% by 2022. With solar energy costs and equipment costs declining, the loss of incentives seems to be offset by the advancements in the industry.
Although the industry, especially at a utility-scale level, increased quickly and dramatically, jobs have not increased as much as in other states. SEIA ranks North Carolina #2 of all states in terms of solar growth, but the Tar Heel State still has half as many solar companies operating as in Florida (#4), Massachusetts (#8), or New York (#10).
North Carolina Solar Panel Disposal and Decommissioning
With SEIA projecting nearly a six percent increase to the almost 6400 MW of solar panels currently in use across the state, North Carolina solar panel recycling demand is staged to grow. “Repower” projects and solar decommissioning services will also be necessary to either breathe new life into existing solar installations or to help safely return land to use with limited brownfield concerns.
Decommissioning planning, which is a careful process, fully addresses these environmental concerns years before the physical decommissioning efforts begin. These plans ensure that proper solar panel disposal, from the handling during take-down all the way to recycling, takes place.
Looking for utility-scale decommissioning or solar panel recycling in North Carolina? The We Recycle Solar team provides service throughout the Southeast.
Unless otherwise noted, all data from SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight