Which States Have The Most & Least Solar Schools?

map of solar schools

Map of Solar Schools

A recent report placed California first among states for solar power built at K-12 schools. Generation180, a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy and currently runs a "Solar for All Classrooms" program to promote sustainable energy use in K-12 facilities, initiated the initiative. Energy is the second-largest individual cost for U.S. schools after pe, according to the organization

California ranked number one in three categories:

  • First in installed solar capacity at 616 megawatts, an increase of 41 percent since 2017;
  • First in the number of "solar" schools at 2,430, a jump of 25 percent since 2017; and
  • First in the number of students attending a solar school, 2.03 million students.

Those installations in California schools contributed to a 139 percent increase for the entire country of solar installations at schools since 2014. The state is home to a third of solar schools and 45 percent of the installed capacity.

New Jersey came in second across the board, with 182 megawatts in 621 schools, educating 408,000 students.

About 7,332 schools run solar in 2,231 districts, accounting for 5.5 percent of all K-12 public and private schools in the U.S. Solar potential of K-12 has risen by 139 percent over the last five years. The number of solar schools has risen by 81 percent. For such installations, the top five states were, in ranked order: California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Indiana.

Indiana, Virginia, and Illinois were three states with the fastest-growing installed capacity; each advanced from the bottom half of Generation180's 2014 ranking to the top 10 in 2019.

Hawaii was the top state in terms of solar school percentage (29 percent); Columbia district came in second (23 percent of schools have solar power), and Nevada came in third (20 percent).

At the bottom of the ranking were eight states, each with five or fewer solar schools and one (South Dakota) which doesn't have any solar schools. 

  • Wyoming
  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
Four of these states (Wyoming, Alaska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) also rank among the country's top oil producers.  See DrillingMaps.com

The study showed most schools installing solar with minimal or no upfront cost of money. A third party funded nearly eight out of 10 installations (79 percent). The report noted that California is one of 28 states which allows the financing of solar projects by third parties. Around 14 percent are wholly owned by the districts that used bonds, loans, cash, or other funding sources and seven percent are partially owned by grants and donations.