Solar power is making huge gains in places that are naturally conducive to drawing energy from the sun, like California, Texas, and Arizona. A state like Indiana doesn’t seem like the kind of place where solar power would be making major inroads, but for the second year in a row the Hoosier State has exceeded 50 MW of installed solar capacity, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Indiana added 59 MW of solar electric capacity in 2014, more than doubling its installed capacity to 112 MW, which is enough juice to power about 12,000 residential homes. Yet it isn’t private residences that are driving solar installations, but rather utility-scale projects driven largely by the commercial market. The largest example is a 17.5 MW array at Indianapolis International Airport, which is set to almost double in capacity once the second phase of the project comes online. The world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway also installed a 9 MW solar farm, which ranks as the largest solar array at a professional sports venue (though its not the only race track-based solar farm, it should be pointed out).

“To put the state’s solar growth in some context, the 112 MW of solar PV installed today in Indiana is nearly as much as the entire country had installed by 2004. And frankly, the state is just scratching the surface of its enormous potential,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Looking forward, we expect 2015 to be another good year for new PV installations across the state.”

The state is indeed primed for an explosion of solar installations, especially in the nascent residential market, which represented just 1 MW of Indiana’s newly installed solar capacity in 2014. WIth solar prices dropping by some 8% over the year before, numerous companies are ramping up their efforts to recruit homeowners into the solar energy army.
Considering all the negative news coming out of Indiana over the past month, seeing something good about the Hoosier State is a refreshing change of pace.