White House going Solar

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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There are many symbols in President Barack Obama's decision Tuesday to return solar panels to the White House roof.

But one his administration didn't want to invoke was Jimmy Carter.

The former president's black-and-white image was quickly slapped above the solar panel story atop the Drudge Report. First-run articles in The New York Times, The Associated Press and USA Today also quickly made the connection between Obama and Carter, who in the late 1970s set up a solar-powered heating system for West Wing offices, only to see it torn down a couple of years later during the Ronald Reagan administration...
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43156.html#ixzz11VnCzznc

I wasn't sure if this discussion might go nowhere, political, or towards energy, so GD is it for now.

While I didn't like Carter as a leader, he had the right ideas. I don't know if the original system made sense or not. For a long time, solar really was a losing proposition for most people, but it probably makes sense to do this today.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
142
1
how much capacity we talkin' 'bout here?
 
  • #3
Argentum Vulpes
how much capacity we talkin' 'bout here?

Best case scenario of an yearly average of 6-7 kWh/m^2/day.

http://http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/redbook/atlas/" [Broken]
 
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  • #5
russ_watters
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I don't know if the original system made sense or not. For a long time, solar really was a losing proposition for most people, but it probably makes sense to do this today.
Well, no, solar is still typically a badly losing proposition unless government subsidies artificially make the economics favorable. Not sure if they would get subsidies for this, but since this is a government installation, the concept of subsidy is pretty meaningless anyway.... but then again, since this is the White House we're talking about, competing economic factors might override the typical economic factors and alternately make it make sense or not make sense:

-The rediculously high security at the White House would make installing anything there rediculously expensive.
-The fact that it is at the White House gives bidders the incentive to bid it for next to nothing since they get to use the installation for advertising. So if they can get a free solar array, definitely go for it.
 
  • #6
1,565
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Well, no, solar is still typically a badly losing proposition unless government subsidies artificially make the economics favorable. Not sure if they would get subsidies for this, but since this is a government installation, the concept of subsidy is pretty meaningless anyway.... but then again, since this is the White House we're talking about, competing economic factors might override the typical economic factors and alternately make it make sense or not make sense:

-The rediculously high security at the White House would make installing anything there rediculously expensive.
-The fact that it is at the White House gives bidders the incentive to bid it for next to nothing since they get to use the installation for advertising. So if they can get a free solar array, definitely go for it.

I think the greatest value from this is to try and show that the US government actually gives a dam about clean energy. Enough to have solar panels, economically viable or not, installed on one of the most recognized symbols of US government.
 
  • #7
russ_watters
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I think the greatest value from this is to try and show that the US government actually gives a dam about clean energy.
You're saying you think that this is a good way to demonstrate that? .....
Enough to have solar panels, economically viable or not, installed on one of the most recognized symbols of US government.
....or that this just gives the appearance of giving a dam about clean energy?

If you're saying the second, I agree, but I don't agree that that is a positive thing. It is a substitute for real government action.
 

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