Thứ Ba, 20 tháng 9, 2011

White House falls behind on it´s solar power promises

9 months after President Obama promised to reinstate solar panels on the white house, they are still no where to be seen.Michelle Lanning, 25/06-2011
Barack Obama´s election gave hope to many environmentalists in the United States and around the world. However, with the change of seasons this past week, environmentalists are questioning the man who once promised change.  

Under pressure from´s ´Put Solar Back on the White House´campaign, the President promised that by Spring 2011 solar panels would indeed be reinstalled upon the White House roof. The Department of Energy (DOE) was placed in charge of drafting and completing the project. 9 months later the new panels are still no where to be seen. Environmentalists are less than happy about the disappointment that came on June 21st, the first day of Summer 2011.  
But first, a little history behind the cause 

Solar panels on the White House originally came about during the previous U.S. President Jimmy Carter´s presidency, 1977-1981. It was in 1979 that for the first time ever in White House history, Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on top of the symbolic building. That was 32 years ago. And unfortunately solar panels have not been replaced since.
The Carter administration installed 32 solar panels extending across the surface area of the White House roof top. Carter believed in producing energy from renewable resources, a vision for his country that was before it´s time. Initially his position came about from an oil shortage caused by the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. He sought to strengthen the country´s internal energy strength by investing in technologies that could be generated and sustained from within the country. His goal was to derive 20% of U.S. energy needs from renewable sources by the turn of the century. For a country that is exposed to such an abundant natural resource, he saw solar power as a perfect way to achieve this goal.

So where did the 32 solar panels go?
Jimmy Carter was not re-elected when his first term ended in 1981. Instead Ronald Reagan stepped into office with a very different energy agenda. By 1986, Reagan quietly ordered the removal of all 32 White House solar panels. Under the radar, the Reagan administration dropped all research and funding being directed into renewable energy efforts. They also rid of tax breaks for renewable technologies. This made them once again too expensive, forcing the country to resource its energy needs elsewhere. The country was once again recommitted to fossil fuels. 
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), fossil fuels -coal, oil, and natural gas- currently provide more than 85% of all the energy needs for the U.S. In 2010 coal alone powered 45% of the country´s energy needs. The department also states "it is likely that our reliance on fossil fuels will increase over the next two decades." So it seems that unless the government can put together a strong agenda to invest into research and provide subsidies to jumpstart these renewable technologies, the struggle to emerge as leading energy resources will continue.
Today the U.S. generates merely 10% of its total energy needs from renewable resources. An even smaller percentage of that small slice is generated from solar. Most of today´s renewable energy comes from hydroelectric dams (6%) scattered throughout the country.
Energy breakdown of US

Although the DOE has a significant task on their hands, their website currently does not even formally list figures or progress for solar power in any project across the country.
Breaching the deadline
On June 20, the DOE’s Director of the Sun Shot Initiative and Solar Energy Technologies Program Ramamoorthy Ramesh wrote a blog post about the effort. 
“Energy Secretary Steven Chu and CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley announced that the Energy Department would lead a project to install American solar photovoltaic panels and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House,” he said. “The Energy Department remains on the path to complete the White House solar demonstration project, in keeping with our commitment, and we look forward to sharing more information—including additional details on the timing of this project—after the competitive procurement process is completed.”
The President has yet to fulfill his promise and the country is still waiting. There have not been any energy reductions goals set by the White House by installing the panels.  If solar panels eventually do make their way onto the roof, they could once again become the symbol for a new generation of renewable technology. Solar panels are a practical solution for meeting the ever increasing energy needs of more 300 million Americans and improving air quality conditions across the United States. 

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