Mandatory solar panels for new Californian homes?
Developers will have to include mandatory solar panels in Californian homes if new building regulations are passed this week.
The California Energy Commission is expected to approve the new regulations when it meets tomorrow. This would make solar installation compulsory in new dwellings.
The code applies to all new homes, apartment buildings and condos up to three stories high. Minimum 5 kWh battery storage is also required under the new efficiency measures.
Power utilities would then be authorised to use excess power stored in the home battery systems. This would apply once the private home’s current energy needs were met.
If approved, California would be the first US state to mandate the installation of solar energy systems in new homes.
Mandatory solar panels: What it means for homeowners
Only 15 to 20 per cent of new single-family homes in California currently have solar power installations.
But because new homeowners may soon be forced to buy solar panels and batteries, the cost of building a new home is expected to rise by US$25,000 to $30,000.
Householders would then save an estimated US$50,000 to $60,000 on their energy bills over 25 years.
However, these savings only apply if solar energy owners are paid at retail rate for the power they feed into the grid. This won’t apply if owners are paid the cheaper wholesale rate.
Mini solar energy power plants appearing in Australia
While solar installations are not yet mandatory in Australia, supporters want a regulatory framework which gives control back to home owners.
A recent study by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council and ClimateWorks Australia recommended solar PV systems be installed in all new Australian homes.
The addition of home battery storage like the Tesla Powerwall would allow householders to generate solar energy during the day and store it for overnight use.
Meanwhile, sonnenFlat’s solar battery plan allows solar homes to connect with other solar households via the grid. As ‘virtual power stations’ they can then share the excess solar power they create.