Blog Post

Obama to unveil new commitments to solar and energy efficiency

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

On Friday, President Obama plans to announce a sweeping package of commitments — over 300 in total — from companies and government agencies to increase the deployment of solar panels, and make buildings more energy efficient. The announcements will take place at a Walmart(s WMT) in Mountain View, California. While the commitments are a far cry from the kind of financing that the green stimulus provided, the announcements are the latest way for Obama to highlight his attention to environmentalism, clean energy and climate change. Earlier this week, he released the massive climate change report.

One of the more symbolic announcements will be that the White House has finally managed to install solar panels on the first family’s residence, according to reports. To note, this was a discussion started four years ago. The White House had solar panels back in the 1970’s, installed by Jimmy Carter’s administration, but President Ronald Reagan removed them during his administration.


More substantial commitments in the package include large pledges by companies like Walmart, which says it will make 850 million square feet of its buildings more energy efficient and will double the number of solar projects at its U.S. stores. Health giant Kaiser says it will look into adding as much as 40 megawatts of solar projects at dozens of its hospitals in California.

Google(s GOOG) — which has spent a massive amount on clean power projects over the years — is launching a contest with a $1 million prize for developing the next generation of smaller, better power inverters. Power inverters are big, clunky boxes that convert the direct current created by the solar panel into alternating current that can be used in the home. The contest is called the Little Box Challenge, and more details will be announced soon about how to enter.

Little Box Challenge

Obama will announce a series of commitments from the federal government, including things like new conservation standards and more funds for energy efficiency upgrades. On the list:

  • Development of job training at community colleges for another 50,000 solar workers to enter the workforce by 2020
  • A pledge for more federal agencies to buy solar panel projects
  • Another $2 billion in energy efficiency upgrades for federal buildings (added to another $2 billion back in 2011)
  • A new program to replace more than 500,000 inefficient outdoor lights on poles across the U.S.
  • Two new energy efficiency conservation standards from the DOE, one for electric motors and one for walk-in coolers and freezers
  • New financing options for energy-efficiency and water-saving upgrades for affordable housing units

In addition to the new commitments, the Obama administration also released a report detailing the progress that’s been made so far around solar panels in the U.S. There were a record number of solar panels installed on rooftops in the U.S. in 2013.

6 Responses to “Obama to unveil new commitments to solar and energy efficiency”

  1. guest

    Left-Right, Up-Down, White-Black is all that is ever offered. I have been around Oil most of my life, working in the Wilmington Fields via THUMS and others. We hear drill-baby-drill or Whirly Birds and Solar Panels.. that is all. Nobody has even addressed upgrading refineries to the latest technologies to get more out of oil AND improve the environment.

    For all the defenders of Solyndra, you want to know why Seagate took over the building? Well you will have to look it up, but I will give you a teaser. cadmium and other heavy metals.. sound familiar PG&E??

    Essentially it looks like they left a pretty big mess behind,” San Jose State Assistant Professor Dustin Mulvaney told CBS 5. Mulvaney has written a white paper (.pdf) on solar industry waste for the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition.

    Green alright.. That Seagate for saving CA a lot of green in HazMat disposal.

  2. vegancamper23

    I guess draining tax payer money by pumping it into Solyndra wasn’t enough. Even his advisors told him not to give over half a billion to a company that would become bankrupt. I see a(nother) clear embezzlement in the future. Anything Obama says about solar panels holds no merit.

      • rannxerox

        Regardless of political affiliation, Benghazi was a complete and utter disaster that has the reek of a cover up to save political face. We not only had a U.S. Ambassador murdered and dragged through the streets, we lost special forces and personnel who were begging for backup and extraction and were completely abandoned by this country.

        I’m a vet so maybe this just hits me harder but your people come first over political BS.

    • Phillip roberts

      I think us funny when individuals bring up Solyndra solar . The panels and concept was and is a great way to harvest outside conventional panels . Meaning direct sun and diffused sunlight harvesting however Syndra panels incorporated both direct and diffused but also reflective harvesting from the white membrane roofing material. Greed and major mis management affected Solydra my friend . Now let’s talk about how much money the coal and oil companies have received just in the last. 6 months . That’s about 5 times the amount invested in Solyndra . We have to stop this whole Demoncratic and reBloodlicans and start thinking for ourselves if you want change

      • rannxerox

        How much money HAVE the coal and oil companies received in the past 6 months? I mean you make a statement without any backing. Not tax breaks (since that’s now what Obama is asking for) but tax money going into these fossil fuel companies from the feds.

        So far all we have seen is the EPA regulating coal out of business and oil companies can’t even build a pipeline. Not even suggesting we should support these things but your statement just seems absurd.