It was announced on August 22 that Germany, the worldwide leader in installed solar energy generation capacity, had set a new record for electricity produced by solar panels. In July, the country was able to derive 5.1 terawatt-hours of electricity from solar, six times higher than the record in the U.S.

The German government has a goal of getting 80 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2050, a lofty objective when you consider that it is one of the most economically and technologically advanced countries in the world, with a massive population and electricity demand.

So why has Germany been so much more successful in installing solar energy, and what does the U.S. need to do to catch up? According to GreenTech Media, one of the main reasons for the disparity is that Germany has created a favorable regulatory environment that has allowed it to reduce “soft costs” – things like administrative costs, labor and permitting fees that make up approximately half of the price of installing solar panels (the panels themselves make up the other half).

We’ve written about the importance of reducing soft costs before, as doing so will have important implications for the solar industry in general. Eventually panel prices will have to bottom out, which means that other factors making up the total installation expense will have to be lowered to make the technology accessible to more families.

Fortunately, Bay Area solar power is already affordable for millions of families throughout central and Northern California, so if you’re interested in going solar and saving money on your energy bills, contact West Coast Solar today to schedule a consultation.