By Sarah Lozanova, Solar Marketing Writer
California leads the way in photovoltaic installations with over 32 MW of installed capacity, enough to power 9.6 million homes. The Golden State is serious about transitioning to renewable energy to phase out fossil fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions. In fact, the Golden State has numerous laws to make this happen, enabling unprecedented growth in the solar energy industry.
Because California has many building codes regarding solar energy, PV contracts need to be aware of these when conducting business in the state. Being knowledgeable about how these laws impact energy codes is critical for advising clients.
What Is The California Solar Mandate?
In 2018, California created a mandate that new single-family homes and multi-family dwellings up to three stories high must install solar panels. The California solar mandate took effect on January 1, 2020, and is part of California’s building codes. The mandate was created by the California Energy Commission (CEC), was unanimously approved 5 to 0 and is the first such mandate in the United States.
Solar systems on new construction projects must have the capacity to provide all of the power needs on an annual basis. Because these properties haven’t been inhabited in the past, builders estimate the electricity needs of the home based on the climate zone and square footage.
However, if the solar system includes battery storage systems, such as the Tesla Powerwall, Enphase Enpower, or LG Chem RESU, builders can reduce the size requirement of the solar system by up to 25%. In addition, when incorporating other energy-efficiency initiatives and demand-response measures, builders can reduce the size of the solar power system by 40% or more.
Last year, the CEC also unanimously approved a change to the building codes to require many new commercial buildings to have solar panels and battery storage. This new commercial mandate will likely take effect on January 1, 2023. The commercial buildings included in this change include high-rise residential projects, hotels, offices, medical offices, health clinics, retailers, grocery stores, restaurants, schools and civic spaces.
The residential and commercial mandates will increase demand for rooftop solar and battery installations throughout the state, creating excellent opportunities for solar contractors.
How Does The California Solar Mandate Impact Homeowners And Businesses?
The solar mandate will affect solar installers and PV contractors. If conducting business in California, it is critical to understand what impact this will have on your customers.
Residential Solar Clients
The California Solar Mandate is already in effect for residential solar clients in single-family homes and multi-family housing three stories or less. Although residential new construction projects must have solar panels, existing homes are not usually required unless they are undergoing extensive updates. In the future, new homes will be required to have wiring that enables an easy transition from gas appliances and heating to all-electric and to be “solar-ready” to easily add solar storage capacity.
More Articles By Sarah Lozanova, Solar Energy Writer:
How Much Does a Home Solar System Cost?
Guide to Free Solar Panels
Do Solar Panels Increase Home Value?
What is a Microgrid?
Sarah Lozanova is a renewable energy copywriter and solar marketing specialist that uses digital marketing campaigns to drive results. She has an ability to gain media attention, boost website traffic, and engage interest on social media platforms. Lozanova connects solar energy companies to their target markets, by raising visibility, then hooking and engaging readers to request more information or take next steps.
Her renewable energy writer experience includes residential and commercial solar energy, battery energy storage systems, electric vehicles, and utility-scale wind energy, and she is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living. Sarah Lozanova holds an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School and resides in Midcoast Maine.