The Obama administration recently announced it had finished installing 44 kilowatt hours of solar panels on parts of the White House roof, just in time for President Obama to announce his plan to use executive orders to push more solar panel and energy efficiency policies.
“On America’s path toward a clean energy future, solar power is an increasingly important building block,” the White House said. “That’s why we installed solar panels on the roof of the White House – it’s a clear sign of our commitment to energy efficiency.”
The administration says that the White House solar panels will provide 6.3 kilowatts of power when the sun is shining. But the sun has to be at the right angle for solar power to generate enough power, which only happens between 6 and 7 hours of the day (with lots of exceptions of course).
White House solar panels will generate about 44 kilowatt hours of electricity per day. This may sound like a lot of solar power, but it’s not when taken into context.
One estimate from 2009, put White House electricity use at 15.5 kilowatt hours per square foot annually. The White House is 55,000 square feet, so it’s annual electricity use on a square-footage basis would be 852,500 kilowatt hours per year, or a little under one gigawatt hour.
National Climatic Data Center data shows that the Washington, D.C area gets about 2528 hours of sunshine per year. If the White House solar array produces 6.3 kilowatts, then it would generate 16,272 kilowatt hours of power a year — nearly 2 percent of its yearly energy needs.
However, since the energy intensity estimate is from older data, it could be off a bit. The White House could have gotten more energy efficient or more energy intensive since 2009. It’s hard to tell since such information is not readily available.
‘‘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,’’ Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a released to promote the panels.
The White House says that the “solar components, converters and the labor to install the panels” were all American-made, reports Boston.com. But officials declined to name any of the companies used to install the rooftop panels.
‘‘Being at the White House, we do have some security concerns. We can’t cover the entire roof, although that would be good from an energy savings standpoint,’’ James Doherty, the White House usher, said in a White House video.
U.S. officials were also silent on the costs of the solar array, which is likely a costly buy in ostensibly tight fiscal times.
“If the average American knew how much this cost the taxpayer, they’d realize this is not cost-effective at all,” according to the blog Climate Change Dispatch (CCD), which first pointed out that the solar arrays produced little power.
“Which is specifically why the White House refuses to release the numbers,” CCD adds. “Obama seeks to use his personal example to spur American families and businesses to do more to reduce reliance on foreign energy and cut emissions blamed for global warming.”
The White House did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request to comment on its energy consumption.
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