Tuesday, 26 October 2010


In 1979, President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House West Wing. The panels were used to heat water for the staff eating area and were a symbol of a new solar strategy that Carter had said was going to “move our Nation toward true energy security and abundant, readily available, energy supplies.” In 1986, President Ronald Reagan removed the solar panels while the White House roof was being repaired. They were never reinstalled.

In 1991, the panels were retrieved from government storage and brought to the environmentally-minded Unity College near of Bangor in Maine. There, with help of actress Glenn Close, the panels were refurbished and used to heat water in the cafeteria up until 2005. They are still there, although they no longer function.

Swiss directors Christina Hemauer and Roman Keller follow the route the panels took, using them as a backdrop to explore the American oil dependency and the total lack of political will to pursue alternative energy sources.

In the movie ‘A Road Not Taken’, the filmmakers took two solar panels from Unity, placed them in the back of two students’ 1990 Dodge Ram pick-up truck, which runs on vegetable oil, and delivered one of them to the Jimmy Carter Library & Museum in Atlanta and the other to the National Museum of American History in Washington.

In 1979, Carter warned in the speech he gave when the panels were first commissioned, “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people - harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

Two of Carter’s solar panels are now museum pieces, the chance was missed, and instead we have, in President Carter's prophetic words "our crippling dependence on foreign oil”.


Anonymous said...

Hey, I can't view your site properly within Opera, I actually hope you look into fixing this.

tezza said...

Pete, good read along with others on your blog, it is no wonder your local member thinks you are an environmental terrorist.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Sorry anonymous; but the problem seems to be within Opera as my site works OK with Firefox and IE.

Terry, good to hear from you in Australia, I hope that all is well with you and yours. Yup, the local MP is a great fan of mine.... not!!!