Solar panels on new homes mandatory in Cali

Solar panels on new homes will be mandatory for most new homes built in California from 2020 as per new building standards ratified by the California Energy Commission on Wednesday.

Solar panels on new homes

Solar panels on new homes - sunpower
Solar panels on new homes in California to benefit Sunpower (source: sunpower.com.au)

This move is the first in the United States which will provide a welcome boost to solar panel manufacturers and installers. According to the Australian Financial Review, California adds about 80,000 new houses per year. Currently, the California Solar & Storage Association estimates that 15,000, or almost one in five homes come with solar. The new standards are expected to increase demand for solar systems by 10-15%. 

The new mandatory solar scheme will raise the cost of a new home by nearly $10,000, according to estimates. This will mean around $40 USD per month in extra mortgage repayments which will be more than offset by a projected $80 USD saving on energy bills. 

“We cannot let Californians be in homes that are essentially the residential equivalent of gas guzzlers,” Commissioner David Hochschild said before the vote.

 
Tom Werner of SunPower, a San Jose solar company, was naturally rather excited about the prospect, telling people in an interview about his thoughts of the future of solar in the golden state: 
 
“We think it’s another example of California policy preceding what will happen in other markets,” he said.
 
According to a 2017 US Department of Energy report cited by the Energy Commission, just 9% of single family standalone homes in the state (which has 40m residents) currently have solar panels installed. This should increase that nicely, with shaded buildings or buildings with tiny roofs exempt from the new mandatory solar systems.
 
Is it only a matter of time before we see these new guidelines working in new communities alongside companies like Power Ledger, whose microgrid and blockchain technology allows for largely self-contained community solar options?
 
 

sonnen in South Australia – HQ, manufacturing plant.

sonnen in South Australia – the German battery manufacturing giant (which is also the world’s largest home storage energy company) have announced that they’re going to move their Australian headquarters from Sydney to Adelaide. The announcement was made last week during a huge week for renewables in SA – with the upcoming election both major parties have promised $100m in solar loans for South Australian residents.  

sonnen in South Australia

Along with the administrative tasks (i.e. the ‘headquarters’) of sonnen’s Australian operations, they’ll also be setting up a full energy storage manufacturing facility in the state.

Chris Parratt, the Australian boss of sonnen’s Australasian business, said the company will have a solar battery manufacturing facility ‘up and running’ in Adelaide within six to nine months.  According to the Australian Financial Review, Parratt says the facility will be able to produce 10,000 systems a year, including sonnen’s flagship sonnenBatterie line. He noted that they are looking at four separate locations in Adelaide, including the former Holden car manufacturing site and the former Mitsubishi car-making factory in Tonsley Park precinct. 

sonnen in South Australia
sonnen in South Australia – sonnenBatterie eco 8.2 (source: sonnen.com.au)

Parratt noted that sonnen have set up a similar facility in Atlanta in the United States of America in a fast timeline last year telling a press conference (along with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill) that they’re confident in scope management:

“We believe in about six to nine months we’ll be producing our first energy storage system,” he said. 

sonnen already have 30,000 household batteries installed in Germany, making them the world’s largest home storage energy company. 

It looks like this will go ahead regardless of whether Weatherill’s incumbent party or the South Australian Liberal leader Steven Marshall wrests control of the state – the latter is against renewable energy targets but has also committed to a $100m means-tested subsidy for up to 40,000 households to get interest free solar loans. 

Weatherill was quick to extol the employment ramifications of the move, having been told he was “doubling down to chase his losses” by federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg last week with regards to raising the RET from 50% to 75%:

“We saw yesterday I was accused of being a problem gambler. Well today, South Australia has hit the jobs jackpot,” Mr Weatherill said, referring to Sonnen’s plans, which will create 130 new immediate jobs, rising to 190 by the end of the year, and then another 300 jobs for trades people to install the batteries.

It’s shaping up to be a very interesting election in South Australia. Who are you voting for, and why? Let us know in the comments.