Every new home in California will soon have a solar panel installed for tapping this source of renewable energy. Would that mean a cleaner environment and lesser fossil fuel consumption? The California Energy Commission has planned to mandate that every new home in the state in 2020 has a solar panel installed on the roof. The commission voted in this favor and approved it – solar panel installations will become a common sight on all the new constructions.
— CA Energy Commission (@CalEnergy) 10 May 2018
The newly proposed rules also push to use electricity over natural gas and increase battery storages. These apply to all the new residential constructions that get a permit after Jan 1, 2020. The only exceptions will be houses with small roofs that cannot accommodate a solar panel or the ones that do not receive any sun because of being shaded by buildings or trees.
According to Andrew McAllister, one of five state energy commissioners who is going to voting for this standard said, “Zero net energy isn’t enough. If we pursue (zero net energy) as a comprehensive policy, we’d be making investments that would be somewhat out of touch with our long-term goals.” He adds: “Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever, at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid. The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy. They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future.”
It was the commission’s goal since 2007 to make new homes net zero in energy consumption such that they generate enough solar power to offset their total energy requirements (be it electricity or natural gas) in a year-long period. At that time, the state energy commission said, “newly constructed buildings can be net zero energy by 2020 for residences and by 2030 for commercial buildings.” But now the new provisions no longer advocate net-zero energy. The officials now believe that the previous goal is now obsolete as it is not cost-effective.
Further Rise of California’s Housing Costs?
According to C.R. Herro, Meritage’s vice president of environmental affairs, the installation of solar panel would increase the construction costs by $25,000 to $30,000. Over a 25-year period, which is the life of a solar panel, an owner can save $50,000 to $60,000 from the energy-saving. If we go for net zero standards, it would mean an even increased cost. At the same time, the solar energy is only consumed during the daytime. At night, people still use lights, televisions and air conditioning, the power for which is supplied by the grid and gas-powered electricity generating plants, which leaves its carbon footprint. So the additional solar energy is not at all worth it.