California leads the nation in the use of solar energy with well over half the country’s solar electric capacity. The state is the home of several of the largest thermal solar generating plants in the world and between those and multiple utility-scale photovoltaic plants, California utilities get more than 5% of their power from the sun.
California leads the nation in the number of homes which have solar panels on their roofs, totaling more than a quarter million.
California is the leader in solar power because it gets lots of sunshine and, of equally importants, solar power gets lots of community and governmental support. The state is committed to getting a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and half of its power by 2030. These commitments have led to some aggressive legislation.
State law in California requires that 15% of roof area on all new small and mid-sized buildings be “solar ready”, meaning that the roof is unshaded by the proposed building itself and is free of obtrusions.
In April, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation that goes a big step further. The city now requires that solar panels be installed on all new residential and commercial buildings constructed in San Francisco. So the 15% solar ready roof area must actually have solar panels installed, either photovoltaic panels that generate electricity or solar water heating panels.
San Francisco has a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and is pushing for policies to have the city meet 100% of its electricity demands through renewable energy. The new law continues San Francisco’s record of leadership in tackling climate change.
Photo, posted February 21, 2014, courtesy of Burcu Celikkol via Flickr.