White House’s Solar Panel Installation Has Begun, Source Confirms

August 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

A White House official confirmed to the Washington Post on Thursday that installation of solar panels began this week on the First Family’s residence.

The plan to use solar energy was first revealed in October 2010, but was not put into effect until now. During a GreenGov symposium at George Washington University, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plan to install American-made solar panels in the spring of 2011.

“This project reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to U.S. leadership in solar energy and the jobs it will create here at home,” Chu said at the time. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”

This is not the first attempt to include solar power in the White House’s energy mix. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed panels on the roof, which were taken down by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

“No one should ever have taken down the panels Jimmy Carter put on the roof,” 350.org founder Bill McKibben said in an emailed press statement. “But it’s very good to know that once again the country’s most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.”

McKibben initially brought attention to the issue in 2010, when he discovered one of the panels from 1979 at Unity College in Maine, which was being used to heat water for the university cafeteria at the time. In September of that year, McKibben and a number of Unity students returned the panel to the White House, asking for it to be reinstalled. Although the request was denied, it was only one month later that the White House announced the solar panel bid.

When the first day of summer 2011 arrived and solar panels had yet to be reinstalled on the White House, McKibben expressed his disappointment. At the time, he called the project “a no brainer” that couldn’t get done in time because Obama considers climate change “a second-tier problem.”

Yet McKibben seemed optimistic about the administration’s renewed interest in the installation. “Better late than never,” the activist quipped in his recent statement.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow

  • Top Renewable Energy Sources

    Renewable energy made up 9 percent of all energy consumed in 2011, according to the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a, and that number is a href=”http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er(2013).pdf”predicted to grow throughout the next decade/a.

    Here’s a breakdown of the top sources of renewable energy in the country, from wind to water and everything in between.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Solar Power – 2 Percent

    Solar power and photovoltaic cells make up the smallest percentage of U.S. renewable energy production, but its future looks fairly promising. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/warren-buffett-solar-power_n_2398816.html”invested $2.5 billion in Calif. solar company SunPower/a earlier this year.

    Also, unlike other sources of renewables, energy can also be generated by small-scale solar installations (like on the rooftop of a home or business), anda href=”http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=8570″ declining costs/a have made solar much more affordable.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Geothermal – 2 Percent

    Geothermal power captures naturally occurring heat from the earth to turn it into power. The renewable source is geographically dependent, a href=”http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=3970″but the Western half of the U.S./a has many promising locations for power plants, a href=”http://www.geysers.com/”like The Geysers in Calif./a, the largest geothermal power plant in the world.

    The U.S. is the largest producer of geothermal power on the planet, but growth hasn’t kept up with wind or solar development in recent years.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Waste – 5 Percent

    Believe it or not, burned garbage accounts for 5 percent of all renewable energy created in the U.S. each year. More than 29 million tons of municipal solid waste was burned in 2010 to create steam to spin turbines and generate power, a href=”http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=7990″ and there are more than 75/a waste-to-energy plants in the country.

    Emissions regulations have been in place at waste incineration plants since the 1960s, but the a href=”http://www.epa.gov/ncer/publications/research_results_needs/combustionEmmissionsReport.pdf”EPA warned in a 2006 report that the toxins released/a during the process could pose a serious environmental risk if not strictly enforced.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Wind – 13 Percent

    The amount of wind power has grown for each of the past three years throughout the U.S. and accounted for the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=9931″largest growth in capacity/a of any energy resource in the country last year. Wind turbines now supply more than a href=”http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/19/us-utilities-windpower-usa-idUSBRE89I0TX20121019″50,000 megawatts a year,/a enough to power 13 million homes, according to Reuters.

    Federal tax credits, which were set to expire at the end of 2012, have made wind farms an attractive form of renewable energy. Congress a href=”http://www.forbes.com/sites/davelevitan/2013/01/02/wind-power-tax-credit-survives-fiscal-cliff-deal/”approved an extension of the credits/a through the end of 2013.

    After production, wind turbines are net zero, meaning they require no energy and produce no emissions. The only problematic thing generated in some cases other than clean power has been a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/24/wind-power-noise-pollution-maine_n_866182.html”a whole lot of noise/a.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Biofuel – 21 Percent

    Biofuels, like ethanol, are created from organic matter like corn or soybeans. Gasoline in the U.S. contains 9 percent of the resource by federal mandate under the a href=”http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/index.htm”Renewable Fuel Standard program,/a and more than a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/us-should-change-biofuel-_n_1764735.html”40 percent of the corn crop/a last year was turned into biofuel.

    The resource is slightly more unstable than other renewables because it depends on the productivity of farms – a href=”http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/us-should-change-biofuel-_n_1764735.html”drought or other environmental problems/a can significantly lower yields and increase prices.

    On average, a href=”http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/flexible_fuel_emissions.html”ethanol has 20 percent fewer emissions/a than traditional gasoline but some types, like a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulosic_ethanol”cellulosic ethanol,/a cut greenhouse gas emissions more than 85 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Wood – 22 Percent

    Timber accounts for nearly a quarter of all renewable energy created in the country. a href=”http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/10/121022-wood-for-heating/”Rising energy costs /ahave led to an upswing in wood burning over the past decade, and nearly a href=”http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/steo/report/winterfuels.cfm”20 percent of New England homes /ause wood for heating, according to a National Geographic report.

    Although it may be a cheaper alternative, wood burning stoves and fireplacesa href=”http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/energyefficiency.html” release more emissions of fine particles /a than other home heating methods, according to the EPA. Burning a href=”http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/bestburn.html”good wood in an efficient burner/a lowers toxic emissions and lost energy. Oh, and always have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors handy.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • Hydroelectric – 35 Percent

    Almost all of the current hydroelectric power plants in the U.S. were a href=”http://www.eia.gov/energy_in_brief/article/hydropower.cfm”built before the mid-1970′s/a, but it’s still the highest producing renewable energy source in the country.

    In 2011, 8 percent of all power created in the U.S. came from hydroelectric sources, but it’s also one of the most geographically dependent sources of energy. The Pacific Northwest gets more than half of all power via hydroelectric due to prime geography.

    emInformation courtesy of the a href=”http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/perspectives.cfm”U.S. Energy Information Agency/a./em

  • How To Really Go Renewable

    Watch this TED talk on the missing link in the future of renewable energy.

Comments are closed.