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New report: Georgia among national leaders in solar power growth and electric vehicle adoption

Decade-long analysis details dramatic clean energy growth in Georgia and nation
For Immediate Release

Atlanta, GA - Georgia ranks #7 in the nation for growth in solar power generation since 2011, cumulative electric vehicle sales through 2020, and public electric vehicle charging ports, according to a new report released today by Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center. Renewables on the Rise 2021: The rapid growth of renewables, electric vehicles and other building blocks of a clean energy future documents the growth of six key clean energy technologies across the U.S. over the past decade: solar power, wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency, electric vehicles and heat pumps. 

Georgia has seen a 169-fold increase in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun since 2011, had a total of 44,480 electric vehicles on the road as of 2020, and as of September 2021 is home to 3,753 public electric vehicle charging ports (the 7th most of any state in the nation). This analysis comes as city and county governments in Georgia—including Athens, Atlanta and Savannah—continue to push bold clean energy investments.

“The progress we’ve seen in clean, renewable energy over the past decade is truly unprecedented and gives us hope we can power our state with 100% clean energy in the near future,” said Jessica Wahl, Clean Energy Associate with Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center. “Georgians can look forward to a cleaner, healthier future, thanks to Georgia’s leadership in solar power and electric vehicle adoption that will enable us to better tap our renewable energy potential.” 

Strong policies, such as state commitments to 100% clean and renewable energy, combined with improving technologies and falling prices, have played a key role in driving adoption, according to the report. To accelerate Georgia’s transition to clean energy—keeping us all healthier, mitigating the worst impacts of climate change and positioning the state as a leader in the renewables landscape—we should increase incentives for clean energy technologies many of which are manufactured in Georgia. 

For example, a $5,000 state income tax credit helped drive Georgia’s EV sales to #2 in the nation several years ago, but growth tapered off when lawmakers revoked the credit in 2015, replacing the incentive with a $200 registration fee. Reinstating the credit and cancelling the fee is just one of many tools our state government has at its disposal to make Georgia a clean energy leader. In the realm of solar technology, Senate Bill (SB) 299 would go a long way toward shifting the share of Georgia’s solar capacity that is distributed, or rooftop, solar versus utility-scale. Right now, utility-scale solar farms account for over 97% of Georgia’s solar capacity. SB 299 would establish monthly netting to make sure homeowners and small businesses are fully and fairly compensated for installing solar on their properties and make rooftop solar installation easier.

In addition to highlighting states that have made the most progress in adopting renewable energy technologies, the research also details the rapid gains achieved nationally over the past decade. According to the report, America produced almost four times as much renewable electricity from the sun and the wind in 2020 as in 2011. Additionally, if wind, solar and geothermal generation continue growing at the same 15% annual rate, renewables could meet the nation’s electricity needs by 2035. 

“Millions of Americans and Georgians are already reaping the benefits of the dramatic clean energy progress we’ve made so far,” Wahl said. “But, we’ll need to do even more in order to transform the vision of 100% clean and renewable energy for Georgia into a reality. Senate Bill 299 is crucial to removing barriers for rooftop solar by enabling homeowners, nonprofits and small businesses to install solar and to receive fair compensation for the energy they produce.”