US & Canada

Obama to add solar panels to White House

President Jimmy Carter in front of an array of White House solar panels
Image caption President Jimmy Carter's solar panels were removed in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan

US President Barack Obama is to install solar panels on the White House roof, a move lauded by climate activists as symbolic of the nation's energy future.

The panels will heat the Obamas' water and provide some electric power.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels later removed by Ronald Reagan. George W Bush put panels elsewhere on the White House grounds.

Mr Obama is a supporter of renewable energy but legislation aimed at cutting carbon emissions died in the Senate.

The solar panels are to be installed by the spring.

"Solar panels on one house, even this house, won't save the climate, of course," global warming activists wrote on their website. "But they're a powerful symbol to the whole nation about where the future lies."

The move was announced by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu at a conference in Washington on ways for the federal government to improve its environmental performance.

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