Installation of solar panels will be mandatory for all newly built houses in California from 2020, according to a new regulation passed by the California Energy Commission, which received a green light from the California Building Standards Commission in early Dec.
According to the regulation, the first in the U.S. and approved by the CEC with a voting of 5:0 in May, all independent residences or apartment building with three or less stories will have to be equipped with solar panels from Jan. 1, 2020. Those which cannot do so, due to shads of trees or other buildings or too small roofs, will have to apply for exemption of the regulation or install energy-storage systems.
The CEC estimated that the facility will enable residence owners to save US$19,000 in electricity bill over a 30-year period, compared with US$8,400 in extra construction cost, as a result of which 1.28 million families may be unable to buy new houses, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
The California government, homebuilders, and energy firms have joined hands trying to solve the cost problem, with one option being the installation of solar panels by homebuilders, which will then incorporate the cost into housing loans for homebuyers.
Another option is for homeowners to lease solar panels, in exchange for 20% discount on electricity bills, or the community-shared solar option, under which homebuilders would install PV power station on a nearby site, generating power for transmission to households. The latest arrangement would cut the extra construction cost for PV power to US$1,200 per home, a far cry from original US$8,400, thanks to economy of scale.
In addition to solar panels, setup of rooftop PV power system also involves installation of inverter for converting direct-current output of solar panels into alternating current, which is then transmitted to households or grid via bus connector, plus installation of smart meters and disrupters, the latter for fire prevention, at homes.
Presently, 9% of existing independent houses in California have been equipped with solar panels and 16 municipal governments, including Santa Monica, Del Mar, and Fremont, have established energy standards for newly built houses.
In a strenuous effort in building a green-energy society, California has aimed to substitute green energy, including PV and wind power, for coal- and natural gas-fired thermal power entirely by 2045, in addition to the requirement for all buses to become zero-emission vehicles by 2040.