Solar Panels Now on White House Roof [video]

Solar Panels

The White House has recently released a statement indicating that solar panels installed on the roof of the White House are now generating electricity. The announcement comes on the heels of report from congress that outlines the effect that global warming is having on the U.S. The panels were first installed in 1979, but were dismantled in 1986, when Ronald Reagan was president. Under the persuasive influence of advocates, there was an agreement in 2010 to install the solar panels which are capable of generating 6.3 kW of energy – the quantity needed for the average size American Home.

White House Staff member James Doherty says that concerns for security restricted the installation of a larger system. In addition to the installation of Solar panel on the White House roof, U.S. president Barack Obama will outline some new initiatives that will be aimed at reducing pollution from emissions and improving energy efficiency.

In a speech, delivered at a solar-powered Wal-Mart in California, the president offered more than 300 wide-ranging commitments aimed at improving energy efficiency and advancing the use of solar power. There was an additional emphasis on addressing the impacts of climate change. The range of the issues included training for jobs in the solar power industry, as well as bolstering the implementation of codes for more energy-efficient commercial buildings, and new energy efficiency standards for freezers and walk-in coolers. The president also cited the increase in the number of solar panel installations, the costs of which have continue to decline, as the U.S. becomes a leader in developing alternative energy sources.

The White House spokesman Matt Lehrich, says the cost of the installation of the solar panels on the White House roof will pay for itself in eight years, with the savings in energy costs that will accrue. It also demonstrates that historic buildings can also be made energy-efficient with the incorporation of solar power.

The solar panel installation on the White House roof,  and the release of the report illustrate a dedicated effort from the administration to convince the public that change is an urgent problem that should be addressed immediately. One of the ultimate goals is to reduce the reliance on the use of fossil fuels that emit carbon and supply more than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity. John Podesta, counselor to the president, says that the U.S. must move to a carbon free electricity system, but the issue has failed to gain traction in Congress and the president appears ready to act without the help of Congress.

According to the White House, if the commitments are achieved, carbon pollution will be cut by more than 380 million metric tons, which is equivalent to removing 80 million cars off the roads for a year. The estimated costs in energy savings will exceed $26 billion, and the new standards when implemented will reduce pollution, by more than 160 metric tons by the year 2030.

The installation of solar panels on the White House roof may be used as example of the commitment and the transformation  that is occurring, albeit slowly in the energy sector. Almost 25 percent of new energy power sources are now derived from solar, which has increased by more than 400 percent over the last four years. The total supply has increased dramatically from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to the current supply of more than 13 gigawatts.

By Dale Davidson


CS Monitor

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