The Gadget Guy reviews the latest technology for the government and explores related trends and hot topics.
In 1979, in the height of the oil crisis, then-President Jimmy Carter unveiled solar panels that had been installed on the White House’s West Wing roof. Back then, the 32 panels were used primarily for heating water, and in his speech on the occasion Carter said they would still be supplying “cheap, efficient energy” in the year 2000.
Well, that might have been true had the next president, Ronald Reagan, not removed them in 1986. Since then, the White House grounds has seen only two solar panels, installed during George W. Bush’s presidency to heat the swimming pool, not to actually provide electricity.
In 2010, President Barack Obama’s then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu pledged they were starting a bidding process to have between 20 and 50 U.S.-made photovoltaic cells installed on the White House roof.
“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. “Deploying solar energy technologies across the country will help America lead the global economy for years to come.”
Unfortunately, one of the many renewable energy projects backed by the presidency went bankrupt in 2011, and the attention brought upon this one company so close to re-election forced Obama to delay the White House project. Now, after a year and a couple petitions launched by environmentalist organizations, the president is making good on his White House solar panel pledge. A White House official Thursday confirmed to The Washington Post the installation of solar panels began earlier this week.
It’s a good time to be looking into solar panels, whether or not you live in the White House. The cost to make them has dropped 97 percent since Carter had his installed. This is fortunate for the rest of the federal government, as Obama had recently set a new goal to have 20 percent of the federal government’s energy use come from renewable power by 2020, which includes the Army, Navy and Air Force deploying a combined 3 gigawatts of renewable energy by the end of the decade.