There is a solar farm in Plains, Georgia, that powers more than half of the entire city, and it was all made possible by one remarkable man. In 2017, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, 96, decided to turn his 10-acre soybean and peanut farm in Georgia into an epic solar farm. Today, the vast land houses 3,852 solar panels that produce 1.3 MW of power per year, providing electricity for over 50% of the small Georgian town. This is equivalent to burning approximately 3,600 tons of coal.
Aside from powering residents’ homes, this installation has been preventing a significant amount of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere.
“Distributed, clean energy generation is critical to meeting growing energy needs around the world while fighting the effects of climate change. 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,” Carter said in a SolAmerica press release.
Carter has been a staunch advocate of clean and renewable energy. In fact, he made history as the first U.S. president to install solar panels on the White House. In 1979, he installed 32 water heating solar panels on the roof of the White House.
“In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy. … 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.” Carter said in his address to the nation on June 20, 1979.
Unfortunately, those panels were removed a few years later when President Ronald Reagan took over the administration.
But this didn’t stop Carter’s dedication to providing clean and sustainable energy to the public. Eventually, his dream of building a solar farm near his beloved hometown became a reality with the help of Atlanta-based energy company SolAmerica.
“There remains a great deal of untapped potential in renewable energy in Georgia and elsewhere in the U.S,” said SolAmerica Executive Vice President George Mori
“We believe distributed solar projects like the Plains project will play a big role in fueling the energy needs of generations to come.”
In June 2017, the Carters had 324 solar panels installed on the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, which provided about 7% of the library’s power.
The 39th U.S. president’s 32 White House solar panels are currently on display at the Carter Library, the Solar Solar Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China, and at The Smithsonian Institute.
The presidents who followed in his footsteps were George Bush and Barack Obama. During his presidency, Bush also installed solar panels at the White House. In 2014, Obama made good on his promise by reinstating 6.3-kilowatt array of solar panels on the White House roof.
Thankfully, there are many individuals, communities, and states working toward shifting to clean energy sources. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has invested in developing technology and products that make solar energy cheaper than ever before.
New York, California, and Washington states have banded together to form the “United States Climate Alliance,” after former President Donald Trump’s declaration that the country would pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.
California is one of the country’s front runners for solar farming technology, with 14% of its energy provided by solar farms. Some of the biggest solar farms in the state are Ivanpah Solar in Clark Mountain, Solar Star in Kern and Los Angeles counties, and Topaz Solar Farm in Carrizo Plain of San Luis Obispo County.
All of this work is bearing fruit. The construction of coal power plants is decreasing globally. A recent report also projects that the U.S. will surpass its Paris Accord goals despite the withdraw.
Indeed, the future is looking bright as many entities embark on a mission of supporting clean and renewable energy sources worldwide.
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