Over the last 40 years, solar panels have been installed and removed on the White House under three different presidents, starting with Jimmy Carter installing panels and Reagan removing them less than 10 years later. Each successive installation and removal is representative of a sea change in the country’s values at that time and highlights how quickly sentiment can change in politics and among the public.
Let’s look back into history to see how this story unfolded.
In the 1970s, the United States was facing an energy crises like it had never experienced before. With an oil embargo in full swing, everyday citizens waited in long lines just for a little gas to put in their cars. Then-president Jimmy Carter felt renewable energy, including wind and solar, was the best method of liberating us from foreign oil and to create an energy-independent country. As a symbol of what he hoped was the country’s future, as well as to display his own trust in the new technology, he had 32 thermal solar panels on the roof of the white house that produced hot water for the cafeteria and laundry services.Continue reading
Utility-scale solar is fairly common in the US and in fact, there are more than 4,000 solar installations in the US that are over 1 megawatt (MW) in size (compared to the average residential solar system of 5 kilowatts). These large-scale plants can be owned by the utility or a third-party that utility agrees to purchase the electricity from (similar to a residential net metering agreement).
Of these large installations, the vast majority are composed of PV panels. The Genesis plant, however, is concentrated solar power, or CSP, which accounts for 10% of these large installations. CSP is an innovative take on thermal solar power which has been mired in controversy over the last few years.
A new proposal by US solar and thermal storage technology company SolarReserve would see a 110MW Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant built near South Australia’s Port Augusta, 200 miles north of the provincial capital of Adelaide. The plant would supply Port Augusta and neighboring cities with reliable solar power and help them to distance themselves from the coal-powered plants that still supply most of the country with electricity.