California Energy Commission Adopts Standards Requiring Solar Systems for New Homes

California first US state to require solar on new homes

During the recent voting, the California Energy Commission voted 5-0 in favour of the legislation under which it will be mandatory for all new houses and buildings - up to three storeys - to install solar panels by 2020. As per estimates of the California Energy Commission, installation of solar panel would increase construction costs of a single-family home by almost US$10,000.

The new mandate, put forth by the California Energy Commission, requires new homes built after January 1, 2020, to include solar systems.

The solar industry accounts for the largest share of jobs in renewable energy, with almost 3.4 million people employed in research, production, installation and maintenance of solar panels - an increase of 9 per cent from 2016.

The use of solar power in the United States has increased 600% over the past 6 years or so.

Members said they expect other states to follow suit in coming years.

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The minimum amount of solar power required by the new standards wouldn't be enough to meet all the needs of most homes. In 2017, solar production became the sixth biggest electricity resource after natural gas, coal, hydroelectricity, wind and geothermal power. But the returns of energy savings in the form of cost savings would be much more.

"Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid", said Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency.

But Republican legislative leaders argue Californians can not afford to pay any more for housing in what is already an extremely expensive market.

About 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family units will be built in 2020, the commission estimates. Some homes that are shaded by trees or taller buildings, or have roofs that are too small for panels, would be eligible for exceptions. Community-shared solar generation equipment will also be an option. With around 850 MW of large scale solar now under construction, and close to a further 1.2 GW having reached financial close and set to break ground, 2018 is shaping up as a record-breaking year for large scale solar.

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