After Obama’s failure to return Jimmy Carter’s solar panels to the White House roof, the court of HH Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – the ruler of one of the world’s most oil-rich nations – was recently crowned with an array of active photovoltaic panels. Technically, the U.S. was ahead of the game. In 1979, after the Arab oil embargo, Jimmy Carter added solar panels to the White House roof and developed an impressive renewable energy research program in order to secure the country’s energy future.
By 1986, however, Ronald Reagan undid Carter’s vision by removing the panels and slashing funding to the Department of Energy’s R&D program. Instead of supporting green alternatives, the former president put America’s full weight behind fossil fuels.
In order to redeem Reagan’s faux pas, environmental activists led by Bill McKibben (who was since arrested for his green activism) returned the original panels to the White House in September last year. But Obama – despite his campaign promises to advance environmental initiatives – turned down the opportunity to put them back up on the roof. And now oil-rich Abu Dhabi has surpassed the United States’ symbolic support for renewable energy programs with the court’s new grid-connected solar panels – a slap in the face for the “world’s most powerful country.”
Construction Week Online reports that the Gulf International Trading Group was commissioned to undertake the Crown Prince’s photovoltaic installation. That task was completed in record time, and the panels have been connected to Abu Dhabi’s Department of Electricity and Water Authority’s main generator.
Not only did Al Nahyan install solar panels on the court’s roof as a symbolic gesture, but the array is already feeding energy back into the grid. This move is just one step the Emirate has taken to fulfill its 2030 plan to become “THE sustainable capital of the world.”
Eventually, even more municipal buildings throughout Abu Dhabi will be fitted with solar panels that can harvest energy from the sun, which burns year-round in this desert country.
If oil sheikdoms are advancing their renewable energy programs at breakneck pace, then surely that should be a wakeup call for the United States? Instead of messing around with the Keystone Pipeline, which scientists believe will sign humanity’s collective death sentence, and kowtowing to big oil, just put the panels back on the roof and get on with it. For everybody’s sake.
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