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Solar panels return to White House roof after 28 years



Barack Obama has given the go-ahead to reinstalling solar panels on the roof of the White House, 28 years after some were removed by Ronald Reagan.

Solar roofs have already been highlighted by the US president as an effective way to generate green energy and create employment at the same time.

In a speech earlier this month that described his renewable energy commitments, Obama outlined measures to boost solar development – by engaging with the private sector and using the roofs of government buildings to generate solar power.

Jimmy Carter first installed solar panels at the White House in Washington DC amid the oil embargo of 1979. They were later removed in 1986 by Ronald Reagan, who saw them as a “joke”. The panels were moved to the roof of a cafeteria at Maine’s Unity College.

Obama pledged to bring solar back in 2010, to show the citizens they can be a useful tool in saving money and helping the environment. Installation began in late 2013 and has now been completed.

US energy secretary Ernest Moniz said in a video, “Solar panels at the White House are a really important message that solar is here, we are doing it, we can do a lot more.” He added that he was confident that solar would play a key role in America’s energy future.

Meanwhile, Cyrus Wadia from the White House office of science and technology policy added, “Everything from the solar components to the labour that put the panels on the roof was all American.

It serves as a symbol that American technology and solar is available, is reliable and is ready for millions of Americans across the country.”

Recent figures showed that the solar capacity in the US had grown by 418% over the last four years.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via flickr

Further reading:

US solar energy capacity up 418% in four years

US carbon emissions fall 3.4% in 2012

Obama sends strong climate change message to global counterparts in speech

US Democrats do an ‘all-nighter’ in the Senate for climate change

Obama: climate change is a fact and we need to act quickly