The solar state plan

Materials World magazine
11 May 2018

California’s reputation as a leader in clean energy is furthered by new solar plans.

The California State commission has approved a plan that will require solar panels to be fitted to all new homes and low-rise apartments, starting in 2020. It is the first decision of its kind in the USA, and was made in an attempt to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The addition of solar panels will increase construction costs by an estimated US$10,000, but the commission believes that consumers will be able to profit in the long run due to energy savings. Although the plan has been approved, it is yet to be backed by the California building standards commission, which updates its building codes every three years.

An estimated 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family homes will be built in 2020. There will be some exceptions to the plan, where solar panels are not feasible. These include shade covered homes, or buildings in which the addition of solar panels would not be cost effective. There is also talk of installing batteries and developing community-shared solar generation options.

The plan has been backed by a variety of construction groups, public utilities, and solar manufactures, but is yet to be commented on by any industry groups. It has received some criticism from Republican legislative leaders, such as Brian Dahle, the chamber’s Republican leader, who argued that the plan would make California an unaffordable place to live.