Solar Policies in California
California is used to being a leader in national statistics. The country’s most populous state, California has the largest economy in the country and actually leads the world as the largest sub-national economy.
California is also the nation’s leader in advancing policy related to the solar industry. The California Energy Commission mandated that all new homes must utilize solar power (either through rooftop panels or from shared solar grids). California already had nearly seven million homes powered by solar and roughly 20 percent of the state’s electricity came from solar installations.
California’s Solar Industry Growth
Following Hawaii, California has passed legislation that would require all retail electricity to be carbon-free by the target year of 2045. While this goal does not have to be met by completely renewable energy sources, the solar industry could surely see another boom from residential, utility, and enterprise business solar installations.
With over 26,000 MW capacity of photovoltaics installed across the state, including large-scale installations like the Topaz Solar Farm (550 MW capacity), there’s a precedent in California for utilizing the state’s solar potential and real estate to the maximum renewable energy potential. Utility-scale solar installations in the state’s deserts can complement the residential mandates to help meet the carbon-free goal that is upcoming.
Need for Responsible Solar Panel Recycling in California
With so many solar installations already functional, and many more megawatts of PVs either in development or under construction, the state leading the charge in putting solar panels up will also be a leader in decommissioning these panels when the time comes.
Although it was finally decommissioned as a solar farm in 1999, Solar Two (and its predecessor, Solar One) was capable of producing 10 MW of solar power. When installations of this magnitude must be shut down due to damage and poor efficiency, responsible disposal methods – those that meet necessary ISO standards – should be considered.
Improper disposal, including landfilling of PV equipment, can release harmful toxins such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and silicon into the environment.
Unless otherwise noted, all data from SEIA/GTM Research U.S. Solar Market Insight