Late last year, California became the first state in the U.S. to introduce a policy requiring rooftop solar to be installed on all new homes. The mandate will go into effect next year. California’s rooftop solar mandate is intended to lighten the environmental footprint of new homes (it also comes with a whole suite of building efficiency mandates, like thicker insulation and better sealing around windows and doors). Some experts in the clean energy space, though, have criticized the mandate , saying that focusing on larger solar and wind installations is a more cost-effective approach to increasing the supply of renewable energy. Individual rooftop installations, because they’re smaller, are on the whole more expensive to install. Proponents say that mandating rooftop solar will cause the cost of installations to drop even further and also potentially encourage more innovation in distributed solar and home energy storage. In preparation for an influx of solar from rooftop installations, grid utilities might also be forced to make much-needed upgrades to energy distribution infrastructure. And there’s another benefit to the rooftop solar mandate proponents cite that’s harder to quantify: its influence on public opinion. Requiring rooftop solar on new homes normalizes it. The idea […]

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