Putting solar panels on new homes could triple U.S. solar capacity

Media Contacts

Environment America Research and Policy Center

PHOENIX — If builders start putting solar panels on all new American homes in 2020, the United States could more than triple its current solar power capacity by 2045, according to a new report released today by Environment America Research & Policy Center. Such a policy could also cut current annual carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by more than 9 percent by 2045.

“Every home and structure built without solar is a missed opportunity,” said Bret Fanshaw, Go Solar Campaign director with Environment America Research & Policy Center. “Generating renewable energy from our rooftops helps homeowners and their communities reduce pollution and live healthier lives.  ”

In May, California became the first state to propose building all new homes with solar panels, a policy which would go into effect in 2020. The state energy commission estimates that a solar homes policy, coupled with energy efficiency improvements, will save homeowners $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over the course of a typical 30-year mortgage — double what they would add to the cost of a home. Later this week, the California Building Standards Commission will meet to review the proposal.

“The new National Climate Assessment makes it clear that we need to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible, and solar energy is key to that transition,” said Abi Bradford, policy analyst and report co-author with Frontier Group. “Installing solar panels on all new homes could add more solar energy capacity than the entire country currently has installed — including utility-scale installations — in just six years from 2020 to 2026.”

The fastest-growing states would add the most solar energy if the policy were adopted, with Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona ranked at the top. The report also provides state-by-state estimates for the potential reductions in carbon emissions.

“We can have solar-powered communities right now and for years to come with smart policy choices,” said Fanshaw. “And the most efficient time to install solar panels is when workers are already on the roof.”