New report: Rooftop solar delivers 10 times more power than a decade ago

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

BOSTON — In 2022, small-scale rooftop solar produced enough energy to power 5.7 million typical American homes, a tenfold increase over the last decade. That’s according to Rooftop Solar on the Rise, a new report unveiled on Tuesday by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. 

“This report celebrates the dramatic growth of rooftop solar power in the United States over the last decade and illustrates how far we have yet to go to take full advantage of our immense solar energy potential,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “With strong public policies, millions more Americans can power their lives with energy from the sun, and move the nation to a cleaner, healthier energy system.” 

Rooftop Solar on the Rise shows that the rapid growth of rooftop solar has been driven by installations on homes, supported by state and federal policies. The report outlines multiple environmental and consumer benefits of rooftop solar – reducing energy costs, leaving a small land-use footprint, easing strain on the electric grid and increasing energy resilience during extreme weather.

Top line findings include:

  • Residential solar energy systems generated 64% of all electricity from small-scale solar installations in the U.S. in 2022.
  • Rooftop solar has the potential to generate about 45% of the electricity the U.S. uses. In 2022, rooftop solar generated about 1.5% of all the electricity the U.S. used.
  • Consistent statewide policies on permitting, interconnection policies, rate designs and solar incentives can help make rooftop solar accessible and attractive to homeowners and business owners.

“Rooftop solar is not only a plentiful, clean, renewable energy source. It also reduces land-use for solar panels, promotes energy resilience, and allows consumers to generate and sell their own energy.” said Tony Dutzik, associate director and senior policy analyst for Frontier Group. “The Rooftop Solar on the Rise report highlights the impressive progress we have made across the country and what it will take to continue and accelerate that progress in the future.”

The top five states for total rooftop solar generation in 2022 were California, Arizona, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey, all of which, at one time or another, have boasted pro-solar policies. California is by far and away the leading solar panel state, but recent policy changes on metering have dampened sales and threaten the state’s long-term climate goals. 

“Each of the 3.9 million Americans who have installed solar panels on their homes have helped the rise of solar power,’ said Neumann. “Now is the time for state lawmakers to help more Americans from all backgrounds reap the financial and environmental benefits of solar.”

The report authors recommend that state and local governments should:

  • Encourage individuals, organizations and businesses to take advantage of the incentives for rooftop solar in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
  • Adopt policies that cut red tape and make it easy for people to install solar power and connect to the grid. 
  • Make it easier to sell energy stored in batteries back to the grid and make solar investments financially accessible.

Today, in America you can get your energy straight from your roof,” said Neumann. “Why pay for power from a distant plant spewing pollution when we can just soak up the sun on our rooftops?”