December 6, 2018 Read More →

California’s 2020 rooftop solar mandate gets final approval

Greentech Media:

It’s official. All new homes in California must incorporate solar power starting in 2020.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) passed the measure in May as an update to the state’s 2019 Title 24, Part 6, Building Energy Efficiency Standards. On Wednesday, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) signed off on the plan— a first of its kind for the nation.

The new standards require that all new homes under three stories high install solar panels starting January 1, and that solar systems are sized to net out the annual kilowatt-hour energy usage of the dwelling. The codes also incentivize “demand responsive technologies,” including battery storage and heat pump water heaters. Combined with a host of other energy efficiency upgrades, the revised building codes are expected to slash energy use in new homes by more than 50 percent.

Over the past three years, the CEC performed an in-depth analysis on the new rules and gathered official public input from all relevant stakeholders, including utilities, home builders, solar companies, the lighting industry and others. The analysis found that requiring solar would be cost-effective in all climate zones of the state, and that homeowners would save $40 dollars each month, or roughly $500 per year, due to the new rules. The codes are expected to add around $40 per month to a typical mortgage payment, but the costs are outweighed by an expected $80 per month in energy savings.

One thing is for sure, the new codes are a win for California’s solar sector. An analysis conducted on behalf of the CEC by Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) found that statewide construction of single-family homes is projected to be 74,154 in 2020, the first year of compliance. Assuming the same number of single-family homes are built over that period, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (formerly GTM Research) says sales are expected to increase 14 percent over a four-year timeframe. That amounts to an upside of nearly 650 megawatts-DC compared to WoodMac’s base-case forecast for the residential solar segment.

The solar industry currently installs around 150,000 solar systems each year on new and existing homes in California. Today, only 15,000 of those projects are on new dwellings. Starting in 2020, the new home solar market will see an exponential increase.

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