California has long been a pioneer in renewable technologies, in particular, solar power. But blazing a trail and staying on it are two different things. In this case, the Golden State has managed to succeed at both.
According to a recent report published by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Environment California Research and Policy Center, the landmark “Million Solar Roofs Initiative” has been a huge success and will continue on this path for some time to come.
The report, “Building A Brighter Future: California’s Progress Toward A Million Solar Roofs,” makes several key findings about the program, which was created by lawmakers in 2006.
The original legislation established a 10-year, statewide interagency effort. It includes funding for solar projects on all types of structures, including homes, businesses, farms, and government and nonprofit buildings. It also set a goal of installing 3 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity by 2016.
According to the Environment California report—the first-ever analysis of the program—California is on track to meet its 10-year goal. Halfway through the timeline, it is close to installing more than 1 GW of rooftop capacity across the state. The report notes this statistic puts California in elite company on an international stage, as only five other countries in the world have reached the same level of capacity.
The report also emphasizes that California’s solar market has expanded despite a weak economy, growing exponentially by 40 percent per year. At this pace, the program is easily on track to reach its goal of 3 GW in another five years.
The cost of solar has also gone down since the initiative began. According to the report, the installed costs of solar in California have dropped by 25 percent for residential systems and 40 percent for commercial since 2007.
The Million Solar Roofs Initiative has also been a boon for jobs. The report notes that California’s solar industry has almost doubled since 2007, and now employs more than 25,000 people. With more than 3,500 solar companies located in California, the state is home to about 20 percent of all U.S. solar companies.