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White House Finally Going Solar

Paul Nastu

White HouseLast week, the White House began installing American-made solar panels, which will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and efficiency upgrades, reports the Washington Post.

In 2010 President Obama pledged to install solar panels on his official residence as a sign of his commitment to renewable energy, and White House officials told the Post this was part of an overall energy efficiency effort.

But the building has had solar panels installed on it before, only to be taken out later. In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter had 32 panels installed to heat water, but President Ronald Reagan had them taken out in the 1980s. Later, President George W. Bush had solar thermal units and photovoltaics installed on a maintenance building to heat the swimming pool.

Climate activists who lobbied Obama to go solar welcomed the news. The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) lauded the announcement, stating that installing solar panels on America’s most famous building would underscore the technology’s growing popularity.

According to SEIA, the US has 30 utility-scale solar projects under construction now that deploy either photovoltaic technology or concentrating solar power. Installed solar electric capacity totals 8,500 MW, and half of all new generation units added to the grid in 2013 come from solar sources, SEIA says.

Part of Obama’s second term climate change plan involves having the federal government and the US Army, Navy and Air Force rely on 20 percent or more of renewable energy by 2020, reports the Post.

In January, the US Army dedicated its largest solar photovoltaic system at White Sands Missile Range.  Developed in coordination with the US Army Engineering and Support Center – Huntsville, Siemens Government Technologies and Bostonia, the 4.1 MW White Sands Missile Range solar energy system will generate 10 million kWh of electricity annually and provide an estimated annual savings of $930,000.

Complemented by a 375 kW solar carport, the solar array deployed at White Sands will supply approximately 10 percent of the total power used at the installation.



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