Solar Energy in Kentucky: The Facts, the Figures, the Challenges

Kentucky is well-known for its horses, bourbon, and bluegrass. But did you know that the state is also home to some of the most significant solar power developments in the country? Although Kentucky still has a long way to go when it comes to harnessing solar energy, the potential is definitely there.

The state’s current solar power capacity is relatively small – just over 1 MW. However, this is expected to change dramatically in the coming years. Between 2016 and 2020, Kentucky’s solar capacity is forecast to more than double, reaching 2.5 to 3.0 MW. This would make it one of the top ten states in terms of solar capacity. To follow suit, more and more Kentucky businesses are looking into ways to harness the power of the sun.

A Rising Sun Empire

Located in the southeastern region of the United States, Kentucky is one of the original thirteen colonies. The commonwealth is currently bordered by Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. It is well-known for its flat landscape and rich soil. The region is also home to some of the country’s most legendary basketball players, including Karl Malone, George Mikan, and Julius Erving. These days, it is more common to find people in Kentucky referring to themselves as “Southerners” than as “Caucasians.”

Amongst all the cultural differences, Kentucky shares a commonality in terms of its geography – it is always sunny, which explains its nickname, the “Sunshine State.” This makes it an ideal location for businesses looking to develop a working relationship with a solar energy company. With plenty of sunshine, there is no reason why businesses can’t make the switch to renewable energy. And, with the right approach, they can.

Rising Economic and Population Density

One of the reasons why Kentucky’s solar power capacity is relatively small compared to other states is simply because it started off small. When compared to some of its neighboring states, Kentucky’s solar deployment is still in its infancy. In 2016, there were just under 60,000 residential solar jobs in Kentucky – less than 1% of the total employment. Although this is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, it will still only represent a small slice of the state’s economic activity. Kentucky’s population is also increasing, and rapidly so. In 2016, there were 725,600 residents living in the state. This represents a 25% increase in just five years. If current growth trends continue, by 2021, there could be as many as 1.2 million people living in Kentucky. This would make it one of the country’s most densely populated states.

The combination of a rapidly growing economy and an increasing population has made Kentucky one of the country’s most valuable real estate markets. Over the past decade, the average sale price of a house in the state has more than doubled, from $75,000 to $150,00+. This has resulted in more and more people choosing to downsize or even relocate due to the higher rental costs and property taxes. As a result, there has been a significant uptick in the number of empty houses available for purchase. In fact, residential property tax revenue in the state has risen from $8.6 million in 2010 to $12.3 million in 2018.

A Renewable Energy Mecca

With so much potential and such a promising future, it’s not hard to understand why so many people are looking into solar power and why it is continuing to grow in popularity worldwide. Over the coming years, more and more companies will discover Kentucky’s sunny climate and its friendly business environment, and it won’t be long before the state’s solar power capacity explodes.

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