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 the president to announce his plan 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 six and seven hours of the day (with lots of exceptions of course).
White House solar panels will generate about 44 kilowatt hours of electricity per day (6.3 kilowatts multiplied by 7 hours). This may sound like a lot of solar power, but it’s not when taken into context.
Data from TradeWindEnergy.com shows that one 100-watt lightbulb running for 20 hours will use 2 kilowatt hours of electrcity. This means that the White House’s solar panels can power 22 of these light bulbs for 20 hours.
Data from the Energy Department (DOE) also shows that the White House solar panels will likely deliver underwhelming results. DOE says that televisions use between 65 and 170 watts of power (varies based on size). This means that the White House solar array would only be able to power about 44 minutes of television per day on a 19 inch screen TV.
Despite the small power output, the White House is arguing that its solar array will encourage more households to buy solar.
‘‘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.
According to the Energy Information Administration, “the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,837 kWh, an average of 903 kilowatthours (kWh) per month” in 2012.
“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.”
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