Seattle -- If builders start putting solar panels on all new Washington homes in 2020, the state could increase its current solar power capacity by over 45-fold by 2045, according to a new report released today by Environment Washington Research & Policy Center. Such a policy could also cut annual carbon dioxide emissions from energy use by 4.9 percent of 2015 levels by 2045.
“Every home and structure built without solar is a missed opportunity,” said Bruce Speight, Director with Environment Washington Research & Policy Center. “Generating renewable energy from our rooftops helps homeowners and their communities, reducing both electric bills and pollution.”
Nationally, the report, Solar Homes: the Next Step for Clean Energy, finds that if each state adopted a solar homes policy, the U.S. could more than triple its current solar power capacity while cutting annual carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by more than 9 percent by 2045.
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. California’s 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 policy.
"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 estimates for all 50 states 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.”
Environment Washington Research & Policy Center works to protect clean water, clean air, and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.