Washington, D.C., November 14, 2011 — More than one gigawatt of rooftop solar photovoltaic capacity has been installed in California, according to a report from the Environment California Research & Policy Center.
Fueled by falling solar energy prices, California's Million Solar Roofs Initiative is on track to achieve its goal of 3 GWs of installed solar capacity by 2016.
The Million Solar Roofs Initiative was designed to drive economies of scale in the solar industry, according to the report. Since the initiative began in 2007, the total installed cost of residential solar installations in California has fallen 25 percent, while the cost of commercial-scale systems has fallen more than 40 percent.
The report notes that the cost declines were made possible in part by dramatic declines in the retail cost of solar panels, as well as many other improvements throughout the global solar value chain.
"Panels are part of a global market, and prices have universally declined as the global market has grown, as manufacturing capacity has increased and spread to new countries, and as improved technologies have been introduced," according to the report. "Thanks to the cost reductions driven by the global market and California's pioneering policies, solar power is becoming cost-competitive with traditional forms of electricity generation."
In addition to clean electricity, the solar industry has generated thousands of new jobs in California and across the U.S. According to The Solar Foundation's 2011 National Solar Jobs Census Report, there are more than 3,500 active solar firms in California, employing more than 25,000 people. Nationally, the solar industry represents 100,237 jobs, as of August 2011. Solar employers plan to increase their workforce by 24 percent next year, creating 24,000 net new jobs.