Solar Panels in North Dakota: An Overlooked Renewable Opportunity Just for You

Considering installing solar panels in North Dakota? At first glance, the harsh winters and lack of sunshine half the year may lead you to doubt whether solar power can work in the Peace Garden State. However, after crunching the numbers, you might be surprised just how well solar energy could perform its money-saving magic right on your own roof.

Here‘s what you need to know about solar panel costs, savings and incentives based on the latest energy data in North Dakota. We‘ll break things down section-by-section to help you make the most informed decision possible should you decide to join the 200 North Dakota households currently powering their homes with solar energy.

Solar Energy Production in North Dakota Today

Out of all 50 states, North Dakota ranks dead last for solar power generation per capita. Just 2 megawatts (MW) of solar energy was produced statewide in 2022 (North Dakota Energy Statistics) – enough to supply only 200 homes with power.

That‘s nearly 1,000 times less solar energy than North Dakota‘s neighbor Minnesota churned out (2,400 MW), and over 100 times less than Montana‘s solar output (240 MW) (EIA State Profiles).

So why has solar adoption lagged so far behind in the Peace Garden State? Several key reasons:

  • No renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to use solar
  • Lack of statewide solar incentives and tax credits
  • Strong oil & gas political lobbying influence

However, the extremely low equipment costs and plentiful summer sunshine still provide an opportunity for you to benefit from solar power generation. As we‘ll illustrate below, going solar could pay off handsomely over the long run.

At Just $2.42 Per Watt, North Dakota Claims the Nation‘s Cheapest Solar Equipment Prices

Installing a solar system in North Dakota will cost you approximately $2.42 per watt, according to 2022 solar installation data from EnergySage. This per-watt equipment price competes with the lowest rates found across the U.S.

For comparison, homeowners pay around $2.50 per watt for solar panels in sun-rich states like California and Arizona. So energy-wise North Dakotans can capitalize on an immediate price advantage when opting to purchase solar panels.

Solar Panel System Cost Comparison by State

StateCost Per Watt
North Dakota$2.42
U.S. National Average$2.77

Cost per watt data via Energysage 2022 State Solar Data

What does $2.42 per watt mean money-wise? For a typical 6 kilowatt (6,000 Watt) residential solar system, that translates into a turnkey price of around $14,520 including panels, inverter and installation costs. Again, you‘d pay nearly $1,000 more in warmer sunny states for an equivalently-sized system.

Right-Sizing Your North Dakota Solar System

Now for the tricky part – figuring out exactly how many solar panels match up with your home‘s electricity appetite. North Dakota households use more energy than average, so chances are excellent you‘ll need extra solar panel capacity.

Across the state, homes consume around 36.2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per day according to 2021 Energy Information Administration (EIA) figures. Fortunately North Dakota also averages a generous 5 hours of peak sunlight exposure during summer months for solar panels to convert into usable AC power.

Here is how to properly size your solar array:

  • Your Daily Electricity Usage (kWh) ÷ Average Peak Sun Hours = Solar System Size (kW) Needed

Plugging in the North Dakota averages:

  • 36.2 kWh ÷ 5 Hours = 7.21 kW Solar Array

So satisfying a typical home‘s complete electricity demand would require a 7.21 kilowatt solar system. At current rock-bottom equipment pricing, that would cost you about $17,448 prior to any financial incentives or discounts.

Of course, every home uses electricity differently. Performing an energy audit will provide the most accurate way to right-size a solar panel system for your particular needs. But in general, North Dakota‘s hearty energy appetite calls for larger solar installations compared to the southern U.S.

Suggested Next Section: Break down the various factors impacting solar costs like weather, equipment types etc.

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