The California Energy Commission recently passed a groundbreaking requirement that is poised to bring solar power into the mainstream like never before in the United States. Starting in 2020, all new homes built in California will be required to have solar panels.
California averages roughly 80,000 new homes built every year, and experts agree that the new requirement will provide a strong boost to the already booming solar industry.
Will Other States Require Solar Panels?
“California is about half of the United States’ solar market, so what happens there often is duplicated in other markets,” says Dr. Sean White, Solar Energy Instructor for Ecotech Training. He expects other states to follow suit. White notes that “with PV prices falling, it does not take requirements like these to see markets take off.” He adds that in many places in the world, solar is already reaching grid-parity, which means it is cost-effective when compared to other forms of electricity.
Ecotech Training BPI and Solar Energy Instructor Mike Hopper also thinks that California’s new solar requirement may spread to other states, although he points to the state’s unique situation when it comes to energy: “California has an abundant solar resource combined with very high electricity rates,” Hopper says. “This recipe actually makes electricity generated from rooftop solar cheaper than what is offered by utility monopolies, provided current net metering rules stay intact.”
Hopper adds that California also has one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the nation, which calls for 50 percent of all electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2030.
“I think this new requirement will help the state achieve this lofty goal while also providing the homeowner with a sound investment and a lower cost of home ownership,” says Hopper.
What About Solar Panel Affordability?
There are concerns that the increased costs of solar-equipped homes will further exacerbate California’s shortage of affordable housing. According to the New York Times, the new requirement is expected to add between $8,000 and $12,000 to the cost of new real estate.
“I've heard people say that the increased pricing will shut new buyers out in some cases,” says White. “On the other hand, there is also an argument that having solar panels on a house would make owning a home more affordable, because lenders take into consideration lower electric bills when reviewing mortgage applications. So, even though it is a requirement, when you look at the underlying finances, it is a requirement that saves money.”
Bottom Line: Benefits of Solar Power Requirement
Both White and Hopper agree that California’s new requirement will be a positive not only for homeowners, but also for those working in the solar industry.
“Not only will there be a higher demand for photovoltaic installers, we will also see an increase in openings for sales professionals, design specialists and inspectors,” says Hopper.
White adds: “We all know that renewable energy is the future. The question that remains to be answered is when and where the future happens, and it is policies like California’s new home solar requirement that bring us closer to that moment. This is what drives innovation and helps businesses and the economy grow.”
Interested in enhancing your green energy skills? Ecotech Training offers online and in-person solar, BPI certification, and LEED accreditation training. Learn more about our programs at ecotechtraining.com.