Perhaps inspired by the 9,000-plus people who’ve signed up to generate their own energy under the Feed-in Tariff scheme, now even Barack Obama’s installing microgeneration at home. Though it’s up for debate whether it counts as ‘micro’ when your home is the White House.
A quarter of a century after Jimmy Carter’s solar panels were removed by Ronald Reagan, Solar PV and thermal panels will be installed on the White House roof in spring 2011. That’s serious south-facing roof space.
The nature of the technology being installed is still to be confirmed, but it could be assumed that, if an incentive like the UK’s Feed-in Tariffs came into force in the States, the Obamas would be reaping rich rewards.
But while he’s boiling the kettle for his morning solar-fuelled coffee, the President may well be deep in thought about the challenges he’s facing in trying to push through legislation on sustainability. A climate bill to cap emissions was dropped earlier this year, but efforts are ongoing to push through a renewable energy standard that would require utilities to source three per cent of their energy from green sources such as wind and solar power by 2012.
With this in mind, alternative energy advocate and writer Bill McKibben was cautiously pleased: ‘It's great news…he listened to the American people, who clearly want far more progress on energy than a paralysed congress has provided. We'd rather have a climate bill, but under the circumstances it's a great win.’
It’s unknown whether further presidential inspiration came from Prince Charles, who recently set about installing a 4000kWh a year solar panel system on Clarence House. Our data team have calculated that Charles would receive up to £1,900 a year from the Feed-in Tariff and from the money saved off his electricity bill – while also reducing his CO2 emission by 2.2 tonnes.