Solar Builder

JAN-FEB 2019

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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Page 9 of 51

10 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 9 residential solar system is around 7.4 kW. According to the "Solar Homes: The Next Step for Clean Energy" report, co-authored by the Environment America Research and Policy Center and the Frontier Group in December 2018, some states would even need 15 kW of solar just to meet their average home electricity consumption needs, which is just not practical. Enter efficiency upgrades. That Solar Homes report notes that efficiency improvements saved 58 quadrillion btu of energy in 2014, almost 60 percent of total energy consumption that year. Further energy efficiency improvements could reduce electricity demand by another 40 to 60 percent by 2050. The CEC also updated the thermal envelope standards that limit how much heat is transferred in and out of buildings (and the ventilation requirements for resi- dential and nonresidential buildings to reduce indoor air pollution and efficient lighting requirements for nonresidential buildings). All of these solar + efficiency standards are projected to cut household energy use by 50 percent. The benefits of solar are magnified fur- ther when builders and homeowners incor- porate electric appliances during home con- struction. On average, heating and hot water systems consume 62 percent of the energy used in U.S. homes. This standard would encourage builders to ensure that a home's main circuit breaker has the right ratings to accommodate PV systems and that the installed conduits from the invert- ers to the panels are placed so as to reduce losses from energy transmission. Storage standard. All of the above will accomplish quite a bit just based on 2018 prices, but crucially the standards also encourage the adoption of residential ener- gy storage systems by counting them toward the energy efficiency requirements. Batteries are still expensive, but coming down in price. Sven Lindström, CEO of Swedish solar energy technology company Midsummer, believes that the long-term profile of residential storage will have exact- ly the same curve and market shift as PV panels. "From today's ~$1,000/kWh, I think we will sooner than expected reach $100/ kWh," he says. "Quality from China will become good enough to dominate the mar- ket. This is great news for all consumers. With smart inverters and batteries, the grid could be seen as just a backup solution for most households." Add to that the passage of SB 700, which reauthorizes the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for five years, extending rebates for consumers through 2025. CALSSA says this will add up to $800 million for storage and other emerg- ing clean energy technologies, resulting in a total investment of $1.2 billion for cus- tomer-sited energy storage and "do for storage what the Million Solar Roof Initiative did" to drive the solar industry in the state. The current prediction is nearly 3 GW of energy storage systems at schools, farms, homes, nonprofits and businesses in California by 2026. Add it up Reading the California Energy Commission's 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards together, a new vision of homeownership emerges, an acknowledgment that these parcels of pri- vate property are still very much tied into the collective of the community and must be operated and maintained as such by taking advantage of breakthroughs in technology. Critics of these updates have a right to be worried about the additional costs added to home construction, especially considering the existing exorbitant home prices in California. But unlike gentrifi- cation, the cause for this price inflation (about $9,500) will improve community air quality, provide energy resilience and save homebuyers an average of $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years. Even non-solar homeowners stand to benefit in this collective march to the future because, if planned for correctly, DG can lower rates for all utility custom- ers. Consider that the average price of electricity bought from U.S. utilities rises by 2.2 percent each year, according to a report from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in September 2018. These new building standards would end the days of unpredictable swings in utility electricity costs. The question we will look at next issue is where exactly today's solar installers fit into this collective opportunity. Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder. In addition to the magazine articles, be on the lookout for our new Countdown to 2020 monthly e-newsletter. If you don't already receive our weekly e-news, head to enewsletter to sign up. On the Web The Countdown to 2020 series is sponsored by QuickBOLT. 2020 To

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