Earlier this month, solar panels finally returned to the White House. The American-made photovoltaic system installed at the executive residence is able to generate 6.3 kilowatts of solar energy and is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years, as long as the next president doesn’t remove them.
This isn’t the first time solar energy has graced the White House. President Jimmy Carter installed 32 panels back in 1979, after an Arab oil embargo spiked fuel prices. In a time when being environmentally-friendly wasn’t popular, President Carter said the solar panels and hot water heater would “either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” Unfortunately, President Ronald Reagan removed them in 1986 when the roof was resurfaced. It’s also worth mentioning that President George W. Bush had some PV installed on a maintenance building and the president’s cabana to heat water for the outdoor White House pool.
Along with the White House going solar, President Obama announced that over 300 organizations, both in the public and private sector, have made commitments to solar power and energy efficiency. These commitments will result in more than 850 megawatts of solar, enough to power nearly 130,000 homes, as well as reduced energy bills for more than 1 billion square feet of buildings.
Currently, a new American home or business goes solar every four minutes. If the American solar industry continues at its current pace, a PV system could be installed every minute and twenty seconds by 2016.