California has hit a major milestone of 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar PV on rooftops across the state - a threshold reached by just five countries. That's over 100,000 solar systems installed since 2007.
Even in this weak economy, California grew its solar market 40% a year, installing over 200 MW this year alone. If the market continues growing at just 25% a year, it will reach 3 GW by the end of 2016, says Environment California in the first review of the state's Million Solar Roofs Initiative.
The 2006 Million Solar Roofs Bill established a 10-year, statewide interagency effort, now called the Go Solar California campaign, which includes programs that fund solar projects on homes, businesses, farms, government and non-profit buildings.
The program is creating thousands of solar jobs in California, which is now home to 20% of US solar companies, about 3500 firms that employ more than 25,000 people. The industry has roughly doubled in size since 2007, when the program got underway.
DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab estimates California has the potential for over 80,000 MW of rooftop solar, which would generate more than a third as much electricity as the state uses each year.
In comparison, Germany, the world's largest solar market, has 17,000 MW installed because of its clear, consistent, strong policies.
"With the Million Solar Roofs program, California made a strategic decision to invest in real solar market transformation -to lay the groundwork for significant cost reduction and the long-term growth of a new industry," notes Adam Browning, Executive Director of Vote Solar. "Now at the program's halfway point we see that investment delivering on its promise."
Governor Jerry Brown wants California to grow even more - he's looking for 12 GW of solar by 2020. To get there, Environment California and other organizations are advocating even stronger supportive policies including a feed-in-tariff program that would enable people to generate wholesale solar electricity, a lift of the cap on net metering to support small rooftop systems, a mandate that all new homes come equipped with solar and renewal of programs such as the Public Goods Charge.
Read "Building a Brighter Future: California's Progress Toward a Million Solar Roofs":