Spain makes solar panels on new homes mandatory

Hoping to catch up to solar powerhouse Germany, sunny Spain has announced that as of next year, solar panels will become mandatory on new and renovated buildings. The government is shooting for a tenfold increase in the total square footage of solar panels by 2010. Domestic solar usage is low in Spain, though the country is a leading manufacturer of solar panels. With oil above $50 a barrel, the government claims that solar power could save each household more than $100 a year just on water heating costs. The initiative could also make a notable dent in the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Industry Minister Jose Montilla promised subsidies to ease the transition, but gave no details. Spain’s socialist government is headed by Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, upon whom a Grist editor who shall remain nameless has a considerable crush. This solar business is only going to fan the flames.