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New Homes in California Must Have Solar: Not a Good Model for Australia?

Earlier this month, the state of California issued a mandate that all new homes built starting in the year 2020 would be required to have solar panels installed. The state’s Building Standard Commision gave the final approval in the first week of December.

Critics are now debating whether or not this move is a good model for other states and the rest of the world. Could Australia make solar panels a requirement on all new houses? Let’s discuss.

Mandatory Solar Panels in California

Green Tech Media has published an in-depth guide of the mandate here. It summarises the requirements of the mandate as:

  • All homes under three storeys must install solar panels from January 1st 2020.
  • The size of the PV system will be determined by location, roof space and the energy usage of the house.
  • Battery storage is also encouraged but doesn’t seem to be a requirement.

More Solar is a Good Thing, Right?

We discussed whether more solar is great for the environment or just causes strain on existing energy infrastructure in a recent article. According to the Scientific American, energy economists are concerned this move will prove to be more expensive and less efficient than other solutions.

These economists argue that while the new solar mandate will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the effects will be minimal (improving things by less than 1%). Instead, they suggest following other models could be much more affordable, efficient and a better model for others to follow. Models such as:

  • The development of more solar and wind farms to introduce more renewable energy into the power-distribution infrastructure.
  • More emissions are being produced by car use in the state rather than energy use in homes. Experts suggest reducing vehicle fossil fuel dependence.

With all of this information in mind, why has the California Energy Commission (CEC) decided on this mandate?

  • The CEC has determined building and transportation sectors in particular need to reduce emissions.
  • Rooftop PV can provide power directly to homes, whereas large solar farm projects require additional land and infrastructure to allow the energy to be transported.
  • More distributed power could provide backup power in the event of power outages and disastrous weather.

Will Australia Make Solar a Requirement for New Houses?

It’s doubtful. Given we have so much room for solar and wind farm development, energy experts and bodies such as ARENA in Australia will push for more projects to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

We’re interested to hear what you think. Leave a comment below or discuss on our Facebook post.


Check out Green Tech Media’s Everything You Need to Know About California’s New Solar Roof Mandate.

Read Scientific American’s Experts Aren’t Taking a Shine to California’s Rooftop Solar Rule.

Read the California Energy Commission’s 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and Frequently Asked Questions.

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