This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 16, 2011

California Passes 1 Gigawatt Rooftop Solar Milestone: Study

The Environment California Research & Policy Center has released a new report documenting that California has installed more than 1 gigawatt of rooftop solar power. To put that figure in perspective, only five other countries worldwide have achieved that amount of rooftop solar power. The study also notes that the state's Million Solar Roofs initiative is on pace to meet its goal of installing its legislatively mandated 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2016.

The 2006 Million Solar Roofs Bill was the first unified state effort to turn solar power into a commonplace and affordable energy resource. The law established a 10-year, statewide interagency effort, now called the Go Solar California campaign, which includes programs that fund solar projects on homes, commercial businesses, farms, as well as government and non-profit buildings. More than 100,000 rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have been installed since the program began. Since the first solar panels under the Million Solar Roofs Initiative were connected to the grid in 2007, California has installed nearly 800 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic power, the equivalent of powering 600,000 single family homes.

The potential for solar power looks bright in the Golden State. According to estimates by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the state could host more than 80,000 MW of rooftop solar capacity, which could generate more than a third as much electricity as California uses in a year. Findings are contained in the first analysis of the state's solar incentive program, "Building a Brighter Future." See the Environment California Research & Policy Center press release and the Building a Brighter Future report PDF.