California has long since established itself as a solar leader in the United States, consistently ranking as the top solar location in the entire country and continuing to build upon this success with more and more installations in each year. In fact, as of 2018, California was home to a whopping 21,074 megawatts of installed solar capacity. While there are countless great areas for solar all across the country, what is it that makes California such a standout? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why the Golden State is a solar dream.
#1 - Weather
This is probably something of an obvious point, but a big reason for California’s astounding solar success is, quite frankly, the sun! California is an excellent host for solar arrays because of the abundance of sun hours each day. Not just this, but the intensity of the rays - determined by cloudiness, angle, and other factors - is close to optimal as well. While solar panels are extremely durable and efficient, working well under all kinds of weather conditions, California’s climate just pushes things that little bit further.
#2 - Incentives & Goals
As a state, California has lofty goals for the reduction of carbon emissions and, as a result, the increased implementation of renewable, sustainable energy sources. Solar installations have seen investments in the billions and extremely ambitious carbon reduction goals have been set for decades to come. Not only are these incentives beneficial for the environment and solar consumers, they also drive the economy by creating a huge number of jobs in the solar industry. As you’ll see near the end of this article, California has also introduced a groundbreaking new solar mandate.
#3 - High Energy Requirements
Owing to its huge population and massive economy, California has extremely high energy requirements to sustain its production and energy needs. This high energy demand, coupled with a socially conscious population and an environmentally ambitious state government, inevitably leads to high demand for renewable energy sources. This, in turn, leads to demand for solar panel installations across the state.
#4 - Solar Visibility
It’s been shown in research that solar panels are contagious, and nowhere is this phenomenon more relevant than in California. As more solar panels appear around the state, solar visibility increases and, owing to human nature, people see the panels, their curiosity is sparked, and they want some of their own. It’s not mere envy that drives this pattern, however, but also the learning potential. If you’re interested in solar, but you don’t quite understand the technology or the financing just yet, speaking to a friendly neighbor is the best guarantee of its legitimacy. This is why referral programs are often a successful solar pathway for new consumers.
#5 - Solar Mandate
This mandate hasn’t actually come into effect yet - that will begin as of 2020 - but it could potentially drive California solar installation figures into the stratosphere. The mandate, just made official in December of 2018, will require that all newly-constructed homes under three stories incorporate solar panels, as well as incentivising battery storage and other renewable technology. This revolutionary mandate is likely to mark an exponential increase in solar installations across California, quite a feat considering that the state already tops the charts for solar installation numbers.
By Shane Croghan