California first USA state to require solar on new homes

Australia on track to meet 2020 Renewable Energy Target

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. The move represents a quantum leap in building standards at a national level.

Members said they expect other states to follow suit in coming years. The standards still need approval from the California Building Standards Commission.

GTM's analysis is based on the Commission's prediction that almost 75,000 new homes will be built across California in 2020 alone and could help the state overcome a recent period of sluggish residential solar growth.

The energy commission estimates the new standards could cut energy use in new homes by more than 50%.

In addition to requiring solar panels, both resident and commercial buildings would have updated attic insulation standards and commercial buildings would have stiffer lighting standards.

ClearView Energy Partners LLC has predicted a substantial increase in distributed generation's share of the annual power supply given the new building standards, along with a boost for the state's efforts to create more storage to assist grid management.

"This is a very bold and visionary step that we're taking", said David Hochschild, a member of the Energy Commission.

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Now the solar industry installs on average 15,000 solar panels on new homes in the state annually, or less than 20%, according to the industry group.

"That's just going to drive the cost up and make California, once again, not affordable to live", Assemblyman Brian Dahle, the chamber's GOP leader, said Tuesday.

The regulations include exceptions for when solar panels aren't cost-effective or feasible, such as on a home shrouded in shade. Solar energy is not only cheap, but it is also eco-friendly.

California is already the nation's No. 1 market for solar installation.

"This is an undeniably historic decision for the state and the US California has always been our nation's biggest solar champion, and its mass adoption of solar has generated huge economic and environmental benefits, including bringing tens of billions of dollars of investment into the state", said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

California has set a goal of all residential buildings being "zero net energy", meaning they produce as much energy as they consume.

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