South Carolina and other Southern states are rainier than many Western states, but the region still has plenty of sunshine that would be suitable for solar power, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
A laboratory index of solar intensity ranks South Carolina among the top 20 states. The ranking is based on the average kilowatt hours of sunlight per square meter each day – a way of measuring the intensity of the sun.
The top 20 also includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana. Arizona leads the index.
The laboratory also found that 32 states, many in solar-friendly parts of the Northeast, don’t have the same level of sunlight to produce solar power as South Carolina, but many are taking greater advantage of the sun’s rays.
New Jersey, for instance, is among the nation’s top five states in solar energy production, but it rates lower than South Carolina in the NREL’s solar intensity index.
Internationally, Germany is a world leader in solar energy production, but the laboratory says the intensity of the sun there is substantially less than in South Carolina.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says about 64 percent of the days in the Columbia-area are sunny each year. In comparison, about 56 percent of the days in Atlantic City, N.J., are sunny, NOAA reports.
Yuma, Ariz., at 90 percent, has the most sunny days each year. On the other end of the scale, about 30 percent of the days are sunny each year in Juneau, Alaska.