When Jimmy Carter installed solar panels in the White House, he was far ahead of the rest of America. On June 20, 1979, he declared with pride:
This solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here in the year 2000, providing cheap, useful energy. This solar heater has the potential to become either a curiosity, a museum exhibit, a symbol of a path not taken, or a minor component of one of the biggest and most thrilling journeys the American people have ever experienced in a generation.
Water in the presidential residence is heated by the 32-panel system.
“President Carter saw [solar] as a really valid energy resource, and he understood it. I mean, it is a domestic resource and it is huge,” according to Scientific American, Fred Morse, director of Carter’s solar energy program.
He continued, “It was the symbolism of the president wanting to bring solar energy immediately into his administration,” Unfortunately, when he took office a few years later, Ronald Reagan, who was not a supporter of alternative energy, removed the panels from the White House.
Regarding two of the things he said in that dedication, Carter was accurate. The Smithsonian Institution, the Carter Library, and the Solar Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China are currently showing his panels.
#OnThisDay in 1979, Jimmy Carter unveiled solar panels atop the White House pic.twitter.com/xpQSNk6K3B— Popular Science (@PopSci) June 20, 2018
Second, one of the most significant American projects of the new millennium is the development of renewable energy.
President Carter was unquestionably way ahead of his time.
Carter has always been a man of action, as evidenced by his active participation in Habitat for Humanity’s home construction projects. So, in order to build a solar farm with 3,852 panels, he leased ten acres of land close to his home in Plains, Georgia, in 2017.
The 94-year-old Carter still resides in his two-bedroom home in Plains, which is valued at about $167,000, with his wife.
Carter’s solar farm now generates 1.3 MW of electricity annually, meeting 50% of the small town’s electricity needs three years after going live. The equivalent amount of coal would be burned in that amount.
Modern panels in the system rotate so they can generate the most power possible while facing the sun throughout the day.
In a press release from SolAmerica, Carter stated that “Distributed, clean energy generation is critical to meeting growing energy needs around the world while fighting the effects of climate change,” Carter said in a SolAmerica press release. “I am encouraged by the tremendous progress that solar and other clean energy solutions have made in recent years and expect those trends to continue.”
“There remains a great deal of untapped potential in renewable energy in Georgia and elsewhere in the U.S. We believe distributed solar projects like the Plains project will play a big role in fueling the energy needs of generations to come,” SolAmerica executive vice president George Mori said in a statement.